Indian footwear market has large potential

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Chandigarh, July 13 (ANI): The Indian footwear market has recently seen a demand shift from low-priced footwear to medium and high-priced products. But the huge potential that this development creates is as yet largely untapped.

The growing aspiration to look trendy but comfortable has increased the demand for footwear having international high-fashion brands in Punjab.

And for the brands, it is an opportunity to provide the Punjabi consumer with products that have a classic elegance - tasteful luxury, enduring quality and fine imprint of craftsmanship.

Jimmy Choo, Pavers England, GUCCI, Moschino - just to name a few, the global luxury brands in footwear have already entered the Indian market.

Till a few years ago, buying a foreign footwear brand would require a trip abroad, a gift from overseas friends/family or at the most an online purchase.

But it changed with the permission for 51 per cent Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in single-brand outlet in early 2006 that allowed foreign footwear brands to enter India.

It also strengthened the organized retailing in footwear. The affluent customers in India today have a wider choice in buying stylish and comfortable shoes.

"There is a huge potential I would rather see. People are willing to shell out money for a good product. They need styling. They need comfort and if that comes for a price. Why not! At Show Tree we are selling at somewhat around INR 12,500 a show of Lacoste and it's selling. There is a very huge potential provided the shoe should be very comfortable and stylish in that matter," said Hitesh Aneja, Brand Head, Shoe tree.

The 500 million dollars Indian footwear market is growing at 15-20 per cent annually. A majority of global brands are foraying into the Indian market through the franchisee route.

Bullish about the Indian market, Reebok, an International footwear brand, is expanding its reach by joining hands with Franchise India Holdings Limited, an integrated franchise and retail solution provider.

People in the Indian middle class today have more money to spend on quality and designer footwear, and the working class too wants comfortable, durable and trendy shoes that they can wear at workplace.

They are now more brand-conscious then before.

"There would be 2-3 main reasons. First would be definitely the comfort level. You can find out shoes for 1000-1500 rupees but they are not much comfortable and I feel that the leather shoes of these big brands have longer life and longer shine. I am looking for some Italian brand shoes and definitely they give good comfort like sport shoes. In leather shoes, you find comfort in these brands only," said Bhupender Jeet, an employee with the Multi National Company from Ludhiana.

"We get quality shoes by paying more. So that's not a concern. The branded sandals are more comfortable. And comfort can't be compared with the cost. Cheap quality shoes are not durable where as branded footwear is long-lasting," said Manjula, a local resident of Chandigarh.

Shoes, say lifestyle Pundits, are second only to clothes in terms of importance and the styles are mostly Western.

Presently, the shoes are available at a price range of 50 to 500 dollars USD or more.

No surprise then that be it Moreschi of Italy, Bali and Rosetti of Switzerland or Merrell of the U.S. - all are willing to come to India. By Sunil Sharma (ANI)

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