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    Shoe Tree goes cautious in its expansion plans; shifts focus to private label

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    Footwear retail venture of Delhi-based India Shoe Tree, which recently closed two of its outlets in Mumbai and Ahmedabad on account of being them non profitable, plans to open five more stores by the end of 2009.

    Talking to IndiaRetailing, , vice president – sales, Sports Station India said, “We have already started the retail corrections. We are closing the non profitable stores and opening more economically viable options. We plan to open atleast five more stores by the end of this year. We recently opened a 4,000-square feet store in Karol Bagh, Delhi which is the market to be for the footwear business.”

    Currently, Shoe Tree has eight stores operational across north and west India. With one store each in Chandigarh, Mumbai and Pune, the Delhi-based footwear retailer operates five stores in the national capital.

    “Looking at the scenario, we shall be expanding but very cautiously. That’s what makes sense to sail through these times,” added Verma.

    Commenting further on the ongoing slowdown and its impact, Verma opined, “Current scenario is majorly driven by the sentiments more than the actual pinch of it. But yes, there is a downturn. The consumption in these times is ‘requirement related’ rather than being ‘let me pick it up’. To drive this impulsive approach, we are working towards latest and value for money drive for the product.”

    With all the outlets being company-owned currently, the footwear retail major did not deny adopting to franchisee model. “As of now, we are concentrating only on company owned outlets. However, we may opt for franchisee model in future depending on the scenario,” disclosed Vema.

    Adding further, Verma said, “Footwear market in the country is at a very developing stage. Thus, the downturn shall affect the growth percentage but there shall still be some growth.”

    Meanwhile in an attempt to boost sales figures, the company is also shifting focus towards private labels. “Apart from the brands which we sell, we plan to get more focused in to the in-house merchandise which is going to be more international in style, design and colours and will make it more value for money to the consumers,” shared Verma.

    “Instead of steady, long shelf range, we shall look forward to do small spurts to increase more options and variety for the customer to choose from and reducing our dead stocks as well. Plan to get more location specific on the range , rather than one range for all Shoe Tree stores,” concluded Verma.

    — Shailesh Shah