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Staff Correspondent
Due to a changing lifestyle and growing purchasing power of the people, the country’s footwear industry has of late emerged as a booming sector in the country.
Many companies, which were export-oriented previously, are now entering the local market observing a high prospect for the industry.
Ranked 8th among the footwear manufacturer nations in the world, Bangladesh has long been producing quality shoes. Earlier, most of the companies of the country limited their business only to export.
Market insiders observed that wearing foreign shoes was a common fashion of the citizens in Dhaka, but that trend has changed to a larger extent. People are now comfortable in using locally made branded shoes, thanks to the local manufacturers for their outshining performance.
Many of the branded footwear companies now have multiple showrooms of their own in different parts of the capital and also across the country. More than 30 exporters have already launched their local brands around the country, according to footwear industry insiders.
With a share of 15 per cent of the country’s footwear export and also being the largest shoemaker in Indian subcontinent, Apex Footwear is currently leading the local market by producing more than 3 million pairs being sold through 220 outlets all over the country.
After beginning leather tanning in 1975 and operation of footwear business in 1990, this footwear giant first appeared in the local market in 2003.
In the last one decade, popular brands like Bay, Vibrant, Jennys, Fortuna, Crescent, Walkar, Leatherex, Hamco, Zeils, Sampan, Falcon, and many others have kept their footsteps into the consumer market.
Apart from the footwear brands, clothing brands like Ecstasy, Sailor, Occult and Freeland are also manufacturing shoes for the domestic market.
Bay Emporium, a concern of Bay Group, entered the local market in 2006 and has won the heart of footwear lovers through around 50 outlets around the country.
Hit in 2012, ZEiL’s is another brand having more than a dozen stores and the brand has also got popularity within a very short time.
Shampan Group, another exporter, has entered domestic market with its brand ‘Shampan’ and doing business since 2012 with its 9 outlets.
Fortuna Group, with 35 years of experience in exporting footwear and leather, entered the local market with the brand ‘Fortuna.’ The brand has 15 sales outlets in the country. Two big footwear exporting companies hit the market during the last couple of years which are Crescent and Vibrant. Crescent, local footwear brand of Crescent Group’ has set up 20 showrooms within three years span of time.
Vibrant, a brand of US-Bangla Footwear, entered the domestic market this year and has six outlets in Dhaka and has planned to expand the business across the country. HAMCO Group also set its footmark in the market in 2014 while Orion Footwear stepped into this arena in 2015.
Presently Orion has 30 outlets in Dhaka and divisional and district towns. It has plans to open another 10 outlets by 2018, said Orion Footwear officials.
Notably, Bata Bangladesh has been controlling the entire footwear industry since long before independence of Bangladesh. Bata started operation in the country in 1962.
Currently Bata Shoe Company (Bangladesh) Limited operates two factories in Tongi and Dhamrai with a production capacity of 1.6 million pairs of shoes every day. The annual shoe sales of the very popular brand currently stand at about 30 million pairs.
Officials and experts opined that the local exporters are opening stores in the domestic market in large numbers as the market is fast expanding and customers’ taste for high-quality footwear has increased.
Experts also opined that the more the local brands will replace the foreign ones, the more the country’s economy will be benefited as local currency will not go outside the country.