Chances are on your next visit to the Liberty outlet your feet might be wiped by wet tissues before you try on a new pair. Or, if you are lucky your shoes might be polished as brand new.
These are some of the initiatives the 65-year old footwear brand has introduced to double its revenue in the next three years.
"We want to reach a turnover of Rs 1,000 crore by 2022," says Anupam Bansal, MD, Liberty Retail.
That's quite a big jump considering the firm's revenue in the financial year 2018 (FY18) was Rs 551 crore and has been in this range for the two corresponding previous years. The firms' sales were Rs 520 crore in FY17 and Rs 472 crore in its previous year.
If Liberty is able to meet its audacious target, it will be locking horns with its direct competitor, Bata. The multi-national footwear brand is currently five times bigger than Liberty. It clocked sales of Rs 2,636 crore in FY18.
But, Bansal is optimistic. He says the growth will come from three areas - retail, distribution and institutional sales. "Retail will always be the biggest contributor to revenue but distribution and B2B have a much higher growth parameter."
Currently, Liberty has 500 outlets across India, most of which are in the Hindi- speaking belt, primarily in the states of UP, Bihar and Jharkhand.
"We will be opening about 100 stores in tier 2 and tier 3 cities every year and strengthening the distribution for a wider reach in multi-brand stores," he adds. They will look for deeper penetration in the existing states instead of venturing into new ones.
From the 500, 200 are company-owned and company-operated (COCO) stores and the rest are franchise-led.
But, which will contribute the most to growth? Bansal says COCO stores are in the prime locations with high rentals, where franchises cannot afford a store but they are important from a brand strategy perspective. These stores are also an experiment about what kind of merchandising works in a market. These learnings are then shared with franchises and hence, their profitability is always higher than COCO stores.
"COCO stores are always the guinea pigs but the learning we derive, pays back the company, so it is a great investment. That way we take a balanced approach, where profit and brand-building go hand in hand," says Bansal.
Also, another big trend is that consumers are getting highly conscious of the footwear they wear. Instead of having a multi-purpose shoe, consumers are looking for footwear for every occasion. There is a different shoe to meet friends, another for office, then a formal one for the party. Then there are walking shoes, running shoe and gym shoe.
As the footwear market is getting segmented, Liberty is quickly ramping up its product portfolio. Last year, it launched two product lines - athleisure brand Leap7X and wellness footwear brand Healers taking its number of brands to 12. They also discontinued dated brands such as Tip Top and Windsor and relaunched them in new avatars that resonate with the youth. The firm plans to launch two more brands this year.
"India is still at a per person consumption of two pairs annually where average women buy 3 pairs, men buy 2 pairs and kids buy 4 pairs in a year. There is a potential for the Indian market to grow to 5-7 pairs," says Bansal.
The firm produces 50,000 pairs a day at its four production facilities in North India.