UK footwear manufacturers, Clarks International have revised their strategy by setting up their own operations across the Asia Pacific region, as part of their plan to become the market leader in premium leather footwear. This news comes hard on the heels of the closure of Clarks last remaining UK factory.

General manager of Clarks International, Prayoot Boonmasuvaran, said that the company had recently set up seven representative offices in Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, China, Taiwan, South Korea and Thailand to boost sales of their leather footwear.

All seven markets will be supervised by the regional head office in Malaysia, which was opened last year. For Thailand, the company also appointed Diethelm Co, a trading firm, as their new distributor, replacing United Link to expand their market nationwide. Under the new structure, the prices of Clarks footwear will be comp-arable in all countries in Asia Pacific.

In Thailand, the prices of Clarks products have been reduced by 40-50% as they no longer have to pay a licence fee to the parent firm. Also transport costs will be lower under the regional logistics and management system. The company also benefit from the Asean Free Trade Area (Afta) agreement since some of their production facilities are in Vietnam and the parent firm help to subsidise the prices.

Since they opened representative offices in Malaysia and Singapore, Clarks’ sales jumped four to five times from the level generated by their distributors. ‘We hope the Thai market will do even better as the Clarks brand has been in the Thai market for over 20 years with strong reputation among Thai consumers’, he said.

Chukiat Tokamolthum, manager of the consumer goods – special products division of Diethelm Co, said the company planned to open five stand-alone shops. The first store was opened at the Central World Plaza in early March and the second will open at Central Rama III in April. They will also open an additional 100 outlets nationwide.

They have also extended their product line to women’s footwear to cover wider target groups, especially teenagers and new graduates. Currently, the market size of premium leather footwear in Thailand is estimated to be worth about 600 million baht per year. Their rivals are the Ecco, Hush Puppies, Geox and Camel brands.

Source: Daily Bangkok Post