The footwear industry recorded 27 per cent growth in four years, from 2012 to 2015, a recent research report of the Leather Goods and Footwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association of Bangladesh (LFMEAB) has found.

In 2014-15 fiscal, Bangladesh exported leather and leather goods worth $1.13 billion against $1.12 billion in the previous fiscal year, making it the second highest contributor to the national exports after apparel.

The country earned $1.21 billion from export of leather and leather goods in 2015-16 fiscal, which was 7.28 per cent higher than that of 2014-15.

The footwear export is now set to be the next to the ready-made garment (RMG) sector of the country. Bangladesh has the potential to emerge as the next footwear manufacturing hub attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), the report said.

Bangladesh's footwear industry shares 3 per cent of the global leather market in volume while 95 per cent of its output is exported.

Apex Footwear, Jennys Shoes, Bay Footwear, Leatherex and Bata Shoe are leading exporters of footwear.

Companies like Orion, Crescent and others have also joined the industry with young and industrious workforce.

The LFMEAB report said Japan and Germany are now the biggest markets for Bangladeshi footwear which is also exported to Italy, the UK, France, Belgium, the USA, Sweden, Spain, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Canada and Korea.

Footwear exports record impressive growth

During the fiscal year 2014-2015, Bangladesh exported footwear worth $128.18 million to Germany, $95.22 million to Japan, $82.64 million to the USA, $57.39 million to Spain, $37.16 million Italy, $24.31 million to France, $14.94 million to the UK and $7.58 million to the UAE.

The LFMEAB report said the present employment in footwear sub-sector comprises 51,400 (15,000 in mechanised sub-sector and 36,400 in small and cottage level non-mechanised sub-sector) and in leather goods sub-sector 10,200 (1,200 in mechanised units and 9,000 in non-mechanised units) in the country.

The report said the footwear industry now aims to grab over 5 per cent of the global market share by the year 2020 on being compliant with international standards in production process.

Modernisation and expansion are going on with technological up-gradation, infrastructure development and skill development initiatives, the report noted.

Leather shoes and sandals, synthetic shoes and sandals, sports shoes, canvas and PVC shoes, slippers and chappals, Army boots, ladies boots and jute sandals are some of the footwear products of the country.

Bangladesh now produces fabric-based footwear for global brands including H&M, Decathlon, Kappa, Skechers, Fila and Puma.

There are now about 15 large-scale modern shoe factories, 42 mechanised and over 4,500 non- mechanised small and cottage units.

International brands like Adidas, Aldo, Timberland, Marks & Spencer, Clarks, Espirit, ABC Mart, Nike, Wal-Mart, K-Mart Sears, and Nine West, Gucci, Reebok, Michael Kors, Picard, Sportcraft, Max & Co and R.M. Williams are sourcing from Bangladesh for quality and price.

The country is aiming to earn $ 5 billion from footwear exports by 2020.

The LFMEAB report said, 12,500 workers of the leather sector will be trained free of cost within the next two years in 15 courses including sewing and cutting, setting and assembling, productivity improvement technique, material selection, and sourcing and procurement.