Bata plans overhaul; PM Sinha new chairman

MUMBAI: Batanagar estate, situated in West Bengal, where the oldest and largest factory of Bata India is located, is poised for a major make over. Bata Shoe Organisation (BSO)

chairman Thomas G Bata, on his recent visit to India, announced major initiatives for the rejuvenation of the Indian arm.

Also as a step towards rejuvenating Bata India, PM Sinha, former Pepsi India chief, was appointed as chairman of the company at its board meeting held in Kolkata.



Speaking to newspersons in Kolkata yesterday, Bata said, "The redevelopment project of Batanagar reaffirms our sincere commitment to the people of West Bengal."

He also announced major initiatives to revamp the company image and operations which will be highlighted by an important modernisation of its retail network and the introduction of new categories of footwear in addition to updating its classic and traditional ranges.

The company proposes to bring about a qualitative change in the environment of Batanagar to evolve it as a satellite township in due course. The development project offers quality healthcare, education, sports and recreation and efficient utilities to the city of Kolkata.

The project is being undertaken with Calcutta Metropolitan Group Ltd.

"Apart from offering healthcare, education and housing facilities, the project will generate employment opportunities and as well as attract substantial outside-investment for such infrastructure development work," said Bata.

Bata said that a greater focus would now be on specialty-manufacturing. The company is also developing a state-of-the-art integrated retail management system in partnership with Infosys.

This multi-million dollar investment by the group will be piloted in France this summer with a worldwide roll-out schedule starting in Q4 2004, informed an official release.

PM Sinha takes over as chairman from Constantin Salameh, who was appointed as the acting chairman of the company recently. The appointment of the new chairman is expected to add a fresh impetus to the company's new vision and initiatives to bear fruit in the coming years.

On his appointment as chairman, the official statement quoted Sinha as saying, "Bata India Limited, an integral part of the country's footwear industry, has always been known and recognised as one of the best brands that has been a part of everyone's life at some point of time.

“To face the challenge of a competitive environment and the ever-evolving preferences of the consumers, Bata India today wishes to reposition itself as a market driven, fashion conscious lifestyle company and I am pleased to be a part of the team driving the company towards its goal."

Keeping in sync with Bata's new avatar as an international retailer of repute, new footwear range reflecting global trends is being introduced every week. The new contemporary designs are being launched for men, women and children, in both lifestyle and sports category.

The conceptualisation of retail segments into flagship/city, family and bazar/factory outlets will enable retail division to focus on a variety of customer groups in India and will offer contemporary shopping experience, with exclusive range of footwear targeted at that segment.

Two of the new generation Signature Flagship stores are already operational in Mumbai and Gurgaon.

Bata India, better known for its men's range of footwear earlier, will also be giving special emphasis on ladies and children's range of footwear now, on a competitive price range. The first quarter of 2004 has already witnessed a significant increase in Bata's retail business by eight per

cent, said the release.

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