Group Managing Director
Bata India Ltd.
A passionate and forward-looking leader, Rajeev Gopalakrishnan joined Bata India in 1990. Gopalakrishnan has earlier handled positions of Director-Wholesale Channels, Sales & Marketing of Bata International – Canada and as Vice President of Bata India Limited in Retail Operations, including its Flagship and City Stores along with the Wholesale Divisions. Before he took on his current role, he was the Managing Director of Bata Bangladesh, prior to which he was Managing Director for Bata Thailand.
Gopalakrishnan holds a Degree of Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical) from the University of Kerala. “Retail is deep rooted in my DNA with so many years of experience. I understand the consumer and their needs,” Gopalakrishnan says, referring to his 24 unbroken years of involvement with the sector. In fact, understanding the consumer should be at the heart of every retail business, he believes. “To achieve full potential, Indian retailers must understand the customer well and customise their products and services accordingly.”
With more than 1,400 stores across 500 cities in India, Bata is one of the most recognised retail landmarks in any major market in India. The company also has one of the best and biggest footwear manufacturing set-ups in the country with its five specialised multi-located footwear manufacturing units.
As Group Managing Director for five countries — India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka — one of the key challenges of Gopalakrishnan’s current role is to balance and distribute his energies proportionately across different countries. But his professional accomplishments, including management proficiencies (which have fetched him numerous awards and acknowledgements from industry experts and forums) assist in striking a balance, he adds.
“I aim to take these countries to a much higher platform and success. The objective is to build a common platform for knowledge sharing and build on to the existing systems,” he says.
Going forward, Bata India will be enhancing its accessories mix, including ladies handbags and belts. The accessories collection at Bata ranges from bags and belts to sunglasses, scarves, socks and mobile wallets, and occupies almost 5-10% of the space in its stores. Keeping in mind the increasing demand for accessories, the company plans to give more space to display accessories at its new stores. The retailer is also looking at rolling out larger stores (bigger than the current average 3,000 sq ft size) across the country’s leading high streets and shopping centres to display its growing product portfolio.