FROM THE DESK OF THE MANAGING DIRECTOR
MR. RAJEEV GOPALAKRISHNAN
The year gone by has been both thrilling and significant for the company. Along with growing our sales and net revenue substantially, we also made significant headway on the agenda we established at the beginning of the year: to emerge as a contemporary and vivacious brand.
Towards achieving this vision, we had introduced campaigns that built a strong consumer connect while communicating the essence of a younger, more dynamic and transformed Bata. Following our global strategy, all our efforts were aligned under ''Product Innovation'', ''Driving Footfalls'', ''Premiumisation'' and ''Omni Channel'' initiatives. The overarching objective of achieving brand imagery change was effectively communicated through every consumer touch point. As a result of which, your company''s fresh new brand perception today is much more appealing.
We believe that maintaining this growth momentum in a fast-evolving and dynamic consumer market which necessitates your company to constantly innovate to stay relevant in the life of our younger consumers. Keeping this in mind, we have ensured that our in-store and future product collections are both fashion-forward and comfortable. Right product and pricing strategy have been crucial wherein we have defined the smart pricing with products categorised on the basis of market classifications. The refreshed product strategy has helped driving higher footfalls into the store and create an attractive value proposition for your brand. As a result, while major metro and mini-metro cities continue to contribute robustly to revenues, smaller markets have also displayed prodigious growth prospects. Taking a closer look into product dynamics; the women and kids, emerged as fast-growing categories contributing an increasing larger share, men''s footwear remained the perennial hero category. In the coming year, we will make a more concerted effort towards product innovation and communication in the casual footwear space to attract newer and younger consumers.
Targeting higher footfalls of our younger and more fashion-conscious customers, we began the year with the announcement of our campaign ''Surprisingly Bata'', which encapsulates our renewed and resurgent identity. The two pillars of our product focuses on design and technology resonated strongly in all the key launches during the year. Be it the Bata Comfit range with ultra-comfortable ''Ortholite'' technology or Power Engage range - the lightest Power shoes ever made, or Bata Red Label collection inspired by designs from Europe and New York. The Red Label Collection saw a big-ticket launch in India with a TVC starring the vivacious actress Kriti Sanon, and beautifully capturing your brand''s makeover into a fashion forward brand.
Even in the new Hush Puppies collection, our design and technology credentials were strongly reflected. The Hush Puppies ''Packable'' Collection offers light and comfortable shoes for the frequent traveller and the Bounce Max range uses ''Air-pod technology'' to extend the utmost comfort to casual footwear lovers.
To imbue our product lineup with a younger ethos, we also on-boarded celebrity influencer and ace Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput as the face of our Men''s Collections. His presence has brought freshness and dynamism to how the brand is seen, especially among his strong, youth-dominated fan base. The ''Surprisingly Bata'' theme was also brought to the fore in his TVC for Bata Red Label Men''s Collection, the TVC starred both Kriti and Sushant.
Kriti also featured in our recent ''9 to 9'' campaign, which tackled the age old dilemma faced by women, that is of choosing style or comfort. Your company provided the solution by offering stylish footwear with high degree of comfort and showcasing the versatility of our products.
I am pleased to note that this campaign, in particular, was loved by our women customers for this path-breaking concept and led to positive word of mouth around the brand. We envision that Kriti Sanon and Sushant Singh Rajput will continue to accelerate the brand''s growth trajectory.
Breaching yet another milestone in our journey was a first-time initiative with Smriti Mandhana - ''Find Your Power''. We did extensive research on our consumer''s fitness habits and then decided to inspire Indians to move towards a more active lifestyle. It was done in a very unique way, which is that customers were incentivised on losing weight! Anyone who bought Power shoes was asked to walk and lose 3 Kg in 30 days and then take back 50% of his purchase value. This campaign caught attention of the media and the consumers, as we saw participation from all ages.
Towards creating a more vibrant context for Bata''s global heritage, ten leading fashion and lifestyle journalists were taken to the second edition of the Bata Fashion Weekend. They joined their counterparts from across the world in experiencing the world of footwear fashion at Bata. Since its inception, the Bata Fashion Weekend has continued to accelerate our revised brand positioning and our vision of being synonymous with global fashion. This year as well, the event not only elevated the brand''s positioning among this influential opinion-maker set, but also re-emphasised the brand''s fashion-focused credentials.
The last year also witnessed the launch of exclusive Bubblegummer and Power stores in Bengaluru and Indore respectively. Understanding the potential of the women''s category to our revenue, we also opened our stand-alone Bata Women''s store in Bengaluru.
Our retail formats saw a major revamp to synergise with our new brand imagery. New 3D elements and strategically placed lighting in stores across India is further enhancing the appeal of our products. Along with innovative branding options, we have made a conscious effort to make our display design language consistent across stores, thereby increasing brand recall. We also ensure retail synchronicity through a global style uniform for the store staff. Many of our new stores, opened in 2018, were curated under revised ''Red Angela Store Concept''.
The last mile of our customer''s experiences, the store-level consumer''s engagement, has always been a crucial part of the purchase cycle. To offer the best possible customer experience, we created and rolled out rigorous training modules for our store staff.
Your company''s consumer loyalty platform called ''Bata Club'', continued to grow in size and profitability. A multi-tier programme was added to drive repeated purchases while adding more value on every purchase. In the coming year, the programme will help us design sharply relevant and ultimately more profitable portfolio using customer insights from this programme.
To tap the unlimited online market opportunity, we continued to aggressively pursue e-commerce business during the year. In addition to www.bata.in, we will continue to leverage our strong partnerships with e-commerce leaders like Myntra, Amazon, Flipkart, as they contribute sizeably to our total online sales and give our brand increased visibility.
Product innovation, state-of-art infrastructure, and revenue strategy are crucial to any business but are ultimately meaningless if we cannot give back this benefit to the society. In line with our social objective of bettering lives, we continued to invest in our ongoing Bata Children''s Programme (BCP), which is working to create better future for underprivileged children through the Ballerina Project in association with Nanhi Kali; India''s largest girl-child education initiative, to empower the girl child.
Furthering Bata''s commitment to sustainability is a range of green initiatives, including our drive to ultimately go paperless via e-invoices in selected stores; 100% water-based adhesives usage (instead of chemicals) in products made in our factories; use of natural compounds like ''Life Naturals'' in all school shoes offering anti-bacterial protection; use of treated and recycled water in Batanagar; and adopting energy-efficient LED lighting in our factories and stores. Bata''s sustainability initiatives were duly recognised, as the company was awarded second place in the ''Supplier Development'' category at the 11th Confederation of Indian Industry (CM) National Competitiveness & Cluster Summit. Your company was also recognised as the ''Reader''s Digest Trusted Brand, 2018'' in Footwear category and by Images Retail Awards 2018 that celebrates Retail excellence. The awards and accolades garnered by us over the years reaffirm that our efforts are being noticed by the industry as well.
Achieving this growth and scale requires the support and contribution from all our shareholders and consumers, who have been vital contributors to every milestone in the year gone by.
Let''s walk together and make this year a success!