Call for focus on non-leather footwear

Footwear makers eye newer markets such as Australia, Japan

May 16, 2020 10:41 pm | Updated 10:41 pm IST - Chennai

Post COVID-19, India has a great chance to conquer newer markets, improve its market share and project ‘Brand India’ products in the global arena, said representatives of the Indian footwear industry.

Participating in a webinar titled ‘How business and behaviours are likely to change,’ organised by the Confederation of Indian Footwear Industries (CIFI), they said the need of the hour was to ‘survive, activate, revitalise so that everyone can thrive.’

They wanted to take advantage of anti-China sentiments to market leather and non-leather products globally and enter newer markets such as Australia and Japan.

Rajkumar Gupta, national president, CIFI, said the non-leather industry required a big thrust and it was important for all the stakeholders to come together on a single platform to address the industries’ woes and create a strong road map for future.

“India has a great opportunity to create a big cluster, if the government and industry can come together to create the eco-system for non-leather footwear,” he said.

N. Mohan, executive director and CEO, Clarks India, said “India is in an advantageous situation given the current negative sentiments against China and we should not miss the opportunity.”

Industry needs to focus on non-leather footwear exports as worldwide 86% of footwear in terms of volume consumed are of non- leather, there is a phenomenal opportunity in this sector, said Mr. Mohan.

According to industry representatives, Indian footwear sector was going through a short-term lull. But, it was expected to recover in three to four months time after lifting of lockdown and stabilise after six to eight months.

P.R. Aqeel Ahmed, chairman, Council for Leather Exports (CLE), said that though there was a huge cancellation of orders due to COVID-19 situation, it was likely to improve soon as buyers would ultimately shift to India. He called for supporting exporters during this period.

The Indian leather and footwear industry employs more than 4.2 million people. It is the second-largest producer of footwear globally with a 10.7% share of production and it was time to take advantage of it, said Mr. Ahmed.

Ramesh Dua, MD, Relaxo Footwear stated that it was very important to amend labour laws so that it infuses confidence in the entrepreneurs to invest more in creating larger capacities.

India had the capability and resources but the labour laws need amendment. The industry would also be willing to invest in technologies if there was focus on non-leather footwear sector, Mr. Dua said.

Mr. Mohan added saying that for every 1,000 pairs produced and sold in India per day, the sector can create 425 jobs spanning manufacturing, allied industries and retail.

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