With more Indian consumers moving towards branded footwear, global players are smelling an opportunity.
Two years after the Reliance Group joined hands with premium outdoor footwear brand Timberland, the Tata Group has put a foot in the segment.
Tata International has teamed up with Wolverine Brands of the US for a piece of the Rs.20,000 crore Indian footwear market.
The JV company plans to kick off with a chain of stores of CAT shoes, to be followed by a dozen other Wolverine brands.
“We are looking at entering the top 15 cities in the first phase,” said Sanjay Mehra, MD, Tata International Wolverine Brands Ltd. “The initial focus is to establish the CAT brand in key cities, and we hope to open at least two stores in every city over the next one year.”
“Consumers who buy CAT footwear know it is durable and comes with a quality that is unmatched,” he said.
“No other brand enjoys the kind of huge backing as CAT does. The brand visibility, awareness and development is much higher than other players available in India.”
Wolverine Worldwide owns 16 brands, which include Bates, Chaco, Hush Puppies and others. It is also an exclusive licensee partner for the $65 billion Caterpillar Inc, a US-based equipment manufacturer that markets CAT shoes and apparel globally. Hush Puppies is already present in India, and is managed by Bata.
“There is a potential for the entire Wolverine range in India,” Mehra said. “We are developing a pipeline to take this partnership to the next level with a new launch likely in six months.”
Tata will act as a sourcing and manufacturing partner for Wolverine, even as it introduces and helps establish the Wolverine brands in India.
CAT shoes will be available in the Rs.3,000-10,000 range, and apparel and accessories in the Rs.800-3,000 range.