From shoe uppers to whole shoes, made-in-India sports footwear is starting to go places.
All the big brands in the sports footwear industry— Adidas, Reebok, Nike, Puma and Fila — are already manufacturing shoes in India through outsourcing contracts with domestic companies such as Lakhani Arman group and M&B Footwear Pvt Ltd.
And other major manufacturers are on their way in.
Apache Footwear Ltd, a China-based company and the largest manufacturer of Adidas shoes worldwide, recently signed an agreement with the Andhra Pradesh government to set up a manufacturing facility on a 314-acre site that will be accorded all the benefits of a special economic zone. The company has said it plans to manufacture one million pairs of shoes at the facility.
A relatively small portion of the organized shoe industry, about 10%, is for manufacturing shoes for global brands. The entire industry is estimated to generate an annual revenue of around Rs 3,000 crore.
Meanwhile, several brands, such as Adidas and Reebok, which are now part of the same company, have been working closely with Indian suppliers to help improve manufacturing processes and capabilities.
“We have been encouraging Indian factory owners to get the right equipment in place,” says Sajid Shamim, director of marketing at Reebok India, speaking of the opportunity for India to manufacture more branded shoes for global markets. “Once that happens, anything is possible and there’s no doubt that the opportunity has been there for sometime now.”
Adidas, for instance, has spent a lot of time with Lakhani Shoes for the past few years training and improvingprocesses.
“Indian companies have already been making cricket shoes for the likes of Sachin Tendulkar...It is only a matter of time before we get to make high-end shoes for other sports and sport celebrities,” notes Subramaniam Ganesh, a sports marketing specialist.
That could happen in the next couple of years, says Gunjan Lakhani, director of Lakhani Armaan, India’s largest supplier of sports shoes.
“Many Indian footwear companies are investing in technology and capacity addition to drive this growth,” says Lakhani, pointing to the domestic retail boom as a key business catalyst for the industry. Lakhani makes over one million pairs of Adidas shoes every year.
M&B Footwear, which has exclusive manufacturing and marketing rights, for the Lee Cooper brand in India, currently uses about 10% of its total production capacity for shoes that are made for global brands.
“In the coming year, we hope to double volume of production for global brands,” says its managing director Inder Dev Singh Musafir.
Reebok India’s Shamim says items in golfer Greg Norman’s line of golf clothes are already made in India.
In the case of high-end sports footwear, he says, “There is a great opportunity for Indian manufacturers.”