Liberty Shoes has been fashioning footwear for well over 50 years for the style-conscious people around the globe. The brand which started its journey in 1954 from a small shop selling four pairs a day has come a long way today.
Elaborating on the same, Anupam Bansal, Executive Director- Retail, Liberty says, “It has been an interesting journey. Footwear industry is still at a nascent level. Most of the market is still unorganised and I believe the new brands that are coming in are helping the existing brands to grow. The consumer shift is happening to the organisd sector.”
He further adds, “We are moving from a country where people were looking for a single shoe for a different need to a market where people are looking for different shoes for differen occassions, different time, different day. And it is an interesting journey, people are looking for buying more and more shoes and the market is growing and that is what keeps the brand alive. And it is definitely challenging because the consumer has started becoming more demanding, it keeps us on toes and always wanting to innovate more, to market more and we are actively doing that.”
The footwear major, at present has around 400 stores, out of which 150 are company-owned and rest are franchise stores.
According to Bansal, “At some key markets where the rentals are very high franchise options do not really work out, there only COCO stores work out but definitely for the remote and developing markets where Capex is limited and ROI is better, definitely we opt for the franchise route.”
He adds, “The average size of Liberty store ranges from 1,000-2,000 sq.ft. While there are exceptions with about 600-800 sq.ft depending on the market size. However, we feel the best model to suit us is about 1,000-1,200 sq.ft size.”
The capex involved to open one store of Liberty is around Rs 30-50 lakh, says Bansal.
Omnichannel – The Way Forward
“As far as Omnichannelisation is concerned, we do not want to over-invest but definitely we need to be present and focus on it. Baby steps is what we would like to follow. I do not think market changes so fast. We should not give customers unrealistic expectations, so that his/her mind does not start working on unrealistical demands. We should go ahead with the journey and the consumer should be part and the parcel because sometimes giving too many freebies definitely lures the customers but also leads to unrealistic expectation which may not be maintained in the long-term because building a strong foundation and realistic approach would be something which we would strenghten and focus upon,” asserts Bansal.
Apart from libertyshoesonline.com, Liberty Shoes has presence on all the major portals.
According to Bansal, “We do not see a big share coming from online. Despite that, we would like to streghten our presence online but we would not like to put too many eggs in the same basket. As far as we have analysed, a lot of customers are buying online for the discounts that are being offered and we do not want to destabilise our regular sales network where consumer is buying at the full price. We will still learn how consumer is behaving and we would prefer selling products at full price than always discounting it through online channels.”
One of the largest footwear retailer constantly keeps on expanding its retail presence. It adds around 50-100 stores every year.
“Touch and feel is more important for footwear as a category and we are entering many more cities where we were not present,” reveals Bansal.
The company’s current annual revenue stands at about Rs 600 crore and it aims to take it to Rs 1,000 crore by 2020.
“We are looking forward to 10-15 percent growth this fiscal,” says Bansal.
He adds, “We are already into quite a few categories in terms of men’s accessories, women’s handbags, shoe care products, foot care products and I think they are enough. We are looking at strengthening these categories and looking forward to increase the reach and range within the same category for next 2-3 years.”