Bata is planning a new retail strategy. It plans to close down its smaller stores and open larger retail outlets. Deepak Deshpande, VP (Retail), Bata India speaks to Kunal Majumder about it.

Bata has emerged into a brand from a retailing company. So what is your take?

We are more focused on retail than we were in the past. The ongoing retail revolution has helped a lot in this. In the past, it was different but today retailers are deciding what is to be manufactured and what is to be sold.

With the revolution in the retail, you are going to have a situation in the market, where getting a product would not be the challenge it used to be in the past. But putting the right product in the right place has to be the thing that needs to be taken into consideration. Today, for example, if you want a range of shirt, you know the local shirt manufacturer, and then through the chain of networks, you can have an access to all the manufacturers and retailers in the world. So the trick is not how to get manufactured, but in selecting what you want and what message you want to convey.
Bata is a brand which is more concentrated into tier-2 cities, now that you are planning to expand and close down smaller retail chains, what is going to be your strategy for tier-II and tier-III cities?

In tier-II and tier-III cities we are planning to open 2,000 sq ft stores along with existing Bata store. We are not abandoning the market. Tell me where or in which city or market you don’t find a Bata store. We will continue to expand and we want to increase the size of our foot brand. The amount of retail acquisitions which we are planning to have, is more than what the market is doing in this particular segment.

Retail is suffering in the West while India still continues to hold. Are Indian consumers still confident?

There are two things that drive a market. One is the unsaturated market demand. And second is per capital consumption. Earlier what has happened is that products were not available and incomes were limited. But today things have changed. Moreover, today there is premium branding. Soon, affordable branding will come in and there will be hypermarkets. Branding is the thing which is going to happen on a long term basis.

What about malls? How many stores you are planning to open in malls?

Yes, we are planning to have stores in malls. It is definitely for the brand presence but at the same time we don’t want our stores in malls to make money for the landlords and not for the company.

What about the Hush Puppies stores?

They are going to be the stand alone stores and will be present in selected malls.
Bata is one of the most recognised brand names in the country. So definitely we want to reinforce that. Within the umbrella of Bata, we would be developing our own brands. Differently, people call them private labels and we call them our own