Bata India Ltd have appointed a new chairman, P M Sinha, the former ceo of Pepsi International South Asia. He replaces Constantin Salameh, who was in charge on a temporary basis after A L Mudaliar stepped down recently. Salameh will continue on the board.

A K Thakur, the UTI nominee, and V Narayanan continue as independent directors. The other directors include Prof Nirmalya Kumar, a US-based professor of marketing, Stephen J Davies, managing director, P K Nag, finance, and Jaswant Singh, marketing and commercial.

The company have decided to make a foray into real estate development, along with a renewed focus on speciality manufacturing. Besides complete modernisation of their retail network, the company plan to introduce new categories of footwear in addition to updating their classic and traditional ranges.

The company plan to take up a major re-development of Batanagar estate, in a surplus area of 264 acres, where their biggest factory (25 million pairs of shoes) in India is located.

Thomas G Bata, chairman and ceo of Bata Shoe Organisation (worldwide), said the re-development project at Batanagar, a 50:50 joint-venture with Calcutta Metropolitan Group Ltd (real estate developers), was expected to bring about a qualitative change in the factory environment.

As part of the overall restructuring process, Bata India have shifted their commercial operations from Kolkata to Gurgaon, near Delhi.

The company also plan to substantially reduce the workforce size at their Batanagar unit near Kolkata from the current levels of 5,000 to around 3,500. A voluntary retirement scheme is currently under way.

Bata have a long history of labour trouble due to the strong influence of the trade unions.