Bata is one of the preferred footwear companies in India. A major reason for Bata’s popularity is its low cost and the comfort of the footwear. Both these things matter to the middle-class people of India and this also became the reason for the success of this company. But, do you know that Bata is not an Indian company?
Bata is a foreign company, not India
Story of Bata
The name of Bata comes so much on the tongue of Indians that most people consider it an Indian company. But, Bata is not an Indian company but a Czechoslovak company. It was started by Thomas Bata in 1894. Thomas Bata was born in a small town in Czechoslovakia to a poor family. His family had been living by making shoes and slippers for many generations. Due to financial constraints, his childhood was spent with a lot of difficulties. To overcome the difficulties of the family, Thomas rented two rooms in the village in 1894 to run his family business on a large scale. He made his sister Anna and brother Antonin allies in his business. After much effort, he convinced his mother and bought two sewing machines from her for $320. Buying raw materials by taking some loans. Somehow the business started. But, his siblings left him midway.
Thomas did not give up. In just 6 years, his work went on so fast that two rooms started falling short. Thomas took more loans to expand the business. Then there came a time when his business came to a standstill due to non-payment of loans.
His company was declared bankrupt. Thomas then started working in a shoe company in New England with three of his loyal employees. He worked there for 6 months. During this, he learned the nuances of working in the company to running the business. After returning home, Thomas resumed business. Once again his business was booming. In 1912, Thomas hired 600 employees in his company. Arranged their livelihood by giving work to hundreds of people in their homes. Thomas’ Idea Started During the Recession.
Bankrupt in his country, his fate changed after coming to India
Thomas set up specialty stores in Bata, to plan sales as well as ramp up production. Because of their comfortable, cheap, and sturdy footwear, they have become the choice of the local people. His business started growing rapidly. The shoe-making machine was started in his company in the year 1912. After the First World War, there was a period of economic recession. This also affected the business of Bata. Due to low sales, production had to be reduced. To overcome this problem, Thomas slashed the price of the shoes in half. His idea took off. Again the demand for his shoes started increasing rapidly. The production of Bata company’s shoes had increased by about 15 times. Seeing the growing demand, Thomas wanted to expand the business to other countries.
By the year 1924, Bata had a total of 122 branches in the country and abroad. Looking at the future, the company started manufacturing socks, other leather goods, tires, chemicals, and rubber products apart from shoes. Now Bata was established as a conglomerate, not just a company. The shoes made by his company were in demand all over the world. Thomas Bata died in an air crash in the year 1932. Unfortunately, his plane collided with the chimney of a building. After his death, his son took over his business. They reached India in search of rubber and leather to expand the trade. Here he saw people without shoes. It came to his mind that he should expand his company in India also. There was no shoe company in India then. Japanese companies dominated here. In the year 1931, Bata started his company in a small village named Konnar adjacent to Kolkata in India. Things started to change when the first shoe company was established in the country. In two years, the demand for Bata shoes in the country increased so much that the company had to double its production.
Dil Hindustani despite being a foreigner
The popularity in India grew so much that the city came to be known as Batanagar after the company’s name. By the year 1939, the company had about 4,000 employees. The company started selling 3500 pairs of shoes every week. Bata was the first company to design tennis shoes. People liked the shoes made of white canvas.
Tennis shoes began to be used for school. In the 1980s, Bata started getting tough competition from Khadi and Paragon. In such a situation, the company resorted to advertising and put itself ahead in the market. Low cost, strong and durable ‘Dil Hai Hindustani’ with an attractive tagline has set an example of being a foreign company.
Now the identity of Indians
They had a tagline – “Beware of tetanus, even a small injury can prove to be dangerous, so wear shoes.” Under this tagline, the company used to promote the trend of shoes in India. Apart from this, another tagline – “First to Bata, Then to school” became very popular. A big reason for the popularity of the company is its small name.
Two words with only four letters come easily into people’s tongues. Today Bata has 1375 retail stores in India. 8500 employees work in these. Last year the company has sold 5 crore shoes. At present, business is going on in about 90 countries. Where about 30 thousand employees work in 5000 stores. More than 1 million customers visit the company’s stores every day.