NEW DELHI :
Bata India Ltd said it has reopened more than half of its 1,400 stores in India even as people working from home turn to its online portal and other online marketplaces to buy footwear.
The country’s top footwear retailer has also begun taking orders on WhatsApp and strengthen focus on online sales channels as immediate plans to reopen all stores remain uncertain amid the coronavirus outbreak.
On Monday, Bata reported a 56.6% drop in consolidated net profit for the March quarter to ₹38.40 crore as the lockdown since March-end forced the company to close all its stores.
With some stores reopening following the easing of curbs on non-essential stores, Bata shops in Tier 3 and 4 towns are performing well, CEO Sandeep Kataria told reporters.
“Demand is moving—we are tracking it on week-to-week basis. It also varies quite significantly across the type of store and the part of the country as well. So, high street stores are performing lower than those in residential areas. A lot of stores that are in smaller markets are performing faster," he said.
Kataria expects an uptick in demand towards the festive season later in the year. “Initially, people will be a little hesitant about stepping out. I’m sure by the time we come into the festivities in the later part of the year, we should be in even better shape," he said.
“As of last Monday, we had 809 of our stores, which is 53% of our total selling points, open. We are following the rules and regulations which the government has asked us to do. So, in some places if we can open till 3pm, in others till about 6pm or also the alternate day or three days a week, we are doing that," he said. Kataria said however that Bata will not open any new store in the next three to six months.
“Appetite for investment in India is very much still there. But we do need to really understand in which direction demand moves. As far as capex is concerned in our factories are distribution centres, that will continue," Kataria said.