It is investing Rs 8 crore in setting up a new manufacturing facility in Noida.
This is mainly to take care of its expanded export business. While M&B was till last year a non-exclusive licensee of Lee Cooper shoes in Bangladesh, in November 2002 it acquired exclusive rights to sell the brand in Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
Besides this, it has also tied up with the Dubai-based Lifestyle chain of stores. According to the understanding, Lee Cooper Shoes India will supply shoes to their exclusive shoe stores in the UAE. Lifestyle has around 30 stores in UAE under the brand name Shoe Mart. Says M&B Footwear director Inder Dev Singh Musafir,One of the biggest export markets for us is Dubai, which follows a similar pattern of fashion trends.
While exports accounted for 8.5 per cent of M&B Footwears total turnover in 2002-2003, this year it is targeting 16 per cent. The company has three manufacturing units, two in Noida and one in Kanpur, with a total manufacturing capacity of 3,000 pairs a day. With the new facility, this will increase to 4,500 pairs a day.
A major player in the Rs 100-crore casual and semi-formal footwear market, it has this year forayed into a new segment: sports shoes. Branded Active Sports Gear, the new line is targeted at fashion sports footwear rather than professional sports shoes. The range includes sandals, joggers and hikers and is priced between Rs 1,385 and Rs 1,885.
Says Mr Musafir, The foray has taken place simultaneously across the UK, Malaysia and India. This is a result of the company recognising a shift in customer taste towards a sporty yet fashionable look in shoes. This is also the travel season when a lot of people opt for go for adventure sports like river rafting and mountain climbing. This is the segment we would be targeting with the sports line.
Though the sports shoe market in India is pegged at Rs 400 crore, Lee Cooper will be operating in the upper middle segment of the market, valued at about Rs 125 crore, in which only niche players like Reebok, Nike and Adidas are operating at present. Lee Cooper sports shoes aim at capturing 10 per cent market share in the first year of launch.
In keeping with Lee Cooper Internationals philosophy of promoting inter-licensee business co-operation, the company is importing its sports shoes from Lee Coopers Malaysian licensee, Power Wave, and in return Lee Cooper India is exporting its range of Shoe Grooming Kits to the Malaysian company.
In other moves, the company plans to launch a womens line in sandals and closed shoes by September.
It has also consciously entered a lower price segment with a range of shoes priced at Rs 1,385. This was targeted at providing an entry point for the aspirational group. The range launched in November 2002 has had a good response. It has contributed 30 per cent to the bottomline. In fact 25 per cent of the total range is now in the Rs 1,385-Rs 1,485 range.
The company plans to open 15 stores by the end of this fiscal. It has already opened two exclusive Lee Cooper stores in Delhi and one in Mumbai. Plans are afoot to open one each in Kolkata, Hyderabad, Gurgaon and Mumbai over the next three months.
The stores will be Lee Cooper Lifestyle stores and set up in association with the licensee of Lee Cooper garments in India, Indus clothing Ltd.