The Tata Group, best known for steel and trucks, are set to give the major players in the domestic shoe market a run for their money with plans to launch leather accessories – shoes, wallets, belts and garments – in the Indian market under the `Stryde’ brandname.

The company plan initially to appoint franchisees to start `leather boutiques’ in the Delhi, Punjab and Hyderabad markets.

The company at present export high-fashion leather products to Marks & Spencer, Escada, Hush Puppies, Betty Barclay and Clarks groups in the overseas markets. They also have a 50:50 joint venture with Marks & Spencer to supply 90,000 pairs of shoes per month from their factory in Chennai. There are further manufacturing facilities at Dewas in Madhya Pradesh, Noida, Agra and Kanpur in UP, and Calcutta.

‘We are entering the market a bit late. But we will spend our energy to push our brands into the minds of consumers’, Rajesh Chawla, business head, Stryde, told the Times of India.

In the Rs80 million domestic shoe market, which sees 600 million pairs being sold annually, branded shoes have a 20% share. There are over half-a-dozen players competing in the branded segment, including Bata, Lee Cooper, Red Tape, Lotus Bawa and Gaitonde.

Industry sources believe that Stryde will face competition from Bata in pricing and Gaitonde in design.

Company officials said that the branded shoe sector was all set to change with the launch of Stryde. ‘We expect our pricing strategy to play a vital role’, a senior Tata International official said. ‘We are optimistic that Stryde will make a quick dent in the branded shoe segment’, said Sumit Lal, sales manager (all-India).

Officials said the company would target 50 franchisee boutiques in the first year and another hundred in the second year of operations.

The company would invest 50% with the franchisees to launch leather boutiques throughout the country.

Source: Daily ‘Times of India’, New Delhi