ZIMBABWE’S biggest shoe manufacturer, Bata Shoe Company, is eyeing the Uganda and Kenya markets as it seeks to increase its footprint in regional and international markets.
Last year, Bata exported into the Latin American market with an initial shipment of 3 000 pairs of safari (farmer) shoes to Chile.
The firm’s managing director, Mr Ahm Ehsanuzzaman, said the shoe manufacturer has improved capacity utilisation to about 90 percent and was looking at penetrating the regional market on the back of increased production.
“We’re hopeful going forward we’ll explore other markets but what is happening now is that we’re exporting to many of our companies within Africa such as Zambia, Botswana, Malawi and some to South Africa. And we’re also in the process of finalising something in Uganda and Kenya.
“We exported about 3 000 pairs of safari shoes to Chile early last year and at the moment we’re working on the new lines for safari as well as other lines that can be exported to international markets,” said Mr Ehsanuzzaman.
He said local and foreign demand for the company’s products had increased adding that his company was likely to surpass the two million pairs of shoes mark it has been producing for the past few years.
Increased production comes on the back of the reintroduction of the Pata-Pata and Sandak brands onto the market this year as the company seeks to regain its market share which had mainly been eroded by an influx of cheap footwear mainly from the Far East.
Manufacturing of the above two brands was discontinued in 2008 at the height of the country’s economic meltdown.
The Gweru-based firm employs about 1 100 people and produces 2, 2 million pairs of shoes annually. — Chronicle
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