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Liberty Shoes: A journey spanning six decades

Founded by Dharam Pal Gupta, Purshotam Das Gupta, and Rajkumar Bansal as Pal Boot House in 1954, six decades later Liberty Shoes makes around 50,000 pairs of shoes daily, retailing in 25 countries. In India, it has 450 stores, out of which 250 are franchisee-owned and 200 are company-owned-and-operated. Today, the brand has a strong market presence and aims to become a Rs 1,000 crore company with a target to open 1,000 exclusive showrooms in India and abroad. In an exclusive interview with Images Business of Fashion, Anupam Bansal, its Director, Retail shares the company’s growth and market presence. Excerpts.

Liberty Shoes has been around for over 50 years now. How has the journey been so far?
Our journey at Liberty Shoes over the past 50 years has been nothing short of remarkable. We started with a vision to provide high-quality footwear to our customers, and I’m proud to say that we’ve not only met that vision but exceeded it. Through decades of hard work, innovation, and commitment to excellence, we’ve grown from a small venture to a well-established and respected name in the footwear industry. Our journey has been filled with challenges and triumphs, and we remain dedicated to pushing boundaries and setting new standards in the market.

What has made the story possible? Please elaborate.
Several factors have contributed to our success story. First and foremost, our unwavering dedication to crafting superior quality footwear that combines comfort, style, and durability has been a driving force. Our focus on innovation, be it in design or technology, has also played a significant role in keeping us relevant and appealing to our customers. Additionally, our commitment to customer satisfaction, ethical business practices, and strong values has built trust and loyalty among our stakeholders, including customers, partners, and employees.

Please share the performances of your product range in terms of gender and categories.
Our product range caters to both men and women across various categories, including formal, casual, sports, and lifestyle footwear. While formal and casual footwear remains popular across genders, we’ve seen a surge in demand for stylish yet comfortable options, particularly in our lifestyle and sports segments. The diversity of our product range ensures that we can cater to a wide array of preferences and occasions.

How has your Healers range been received in the market since its launch?
Our Healers range has been incredibly well-received by the market. The unique focus on wellness and comfort in this range has resonated with consumers seeking footwear that promotes overall foot health. The combination of ergonomic design and premium materials has garnered positive feedback from customers, and we are proud to contribute to their well-being through this innovative product line.

How would you split the overall sales between offline and online?
Our sales are well-distributed between offline and online channels. While our physical stores continue to be a significant revenue generator and a crucial touchpoint for customer interactions, the online segment has been growing steadily. We recognize the importance of both channels and strive to offer a seamless experience to our customers, regardless of their preferred mode of purchase.

Please discuss some of the retail technologies you have introduced both online and offline to ensure a more engaging experience.
We are committed to enhancing customer experiences through the integration of technology. In our physical stores, we’ve implemented interactive kiosks that provide detailed product information, helping customers make informed decisions. Online, our website features virtual try-on tools that allow customers to visualize how our footwear looks on them before making a purchase. Additionally, we leverage data analytics to personalize recommendations and offers for our online customers, creating a more tailored shopping experience.

How many manufacturing units does Liberty Shoes operate today, and what are their production capacities?
Currently, we operate several manufacturing units. These facilities are equipped with state-of-the-art technology and skilled craftsmen to ensure the highest quality standards. Our production capacities are designed to meet the diverse demands of our product range and enable us to maintain a consistent supply to both domestic and international markets.

How careful are you in sourcing materials to ensure there is greater traceability?
Sourcing materials responsibly is a top priority for us. We adhere to stringent sourcing practices to ensure that our materials are of the highest quality and meet ethical and environmental standards. We work closely with suppliers who share our commitment to sustainability and traceability, ensuring that the materials used in our footwear align with our values and the expectations of our customers.

How important is sustainability to Liberty Shoes? Do you have a zero net target? Sustainability is a core value at Liberty Shoes. We recognize our responsibility to the environment and are dedicated to minimizing our ecological footprint. While we do not have a zero net target currently, we have implemented various sustainable practices, such as using eco-friendly materials, reducing waste in production, and exploring energy-efficient technologies. We continue to innovate and explore new ways to contribute positively to the environment.

You are present across India and 25 more countries. Tell us about your retail expansion plans in 2023-24 and omnichannel strategy.
In the upcoming year, we are focused on further expanding our global footprint while strengthening our presence in existing markets. We plan to open new company-owned stores strategically, both domestically and internationally, in locations with high growth potential. Our omnichannel strategy aims to provide a seamless experience for customers, allowing them to engage with our brand through multiple touchpoints, whether online or offline and enabling them to transition effortlessly between them.

What is your take on the Indian footwear industry, in terms of size, prospects, and product offerings?
The Indian footwear industry is immense and holds promising prospects. With a large population and a growing middle class, the demand for footwear is consistently high. The industry’s size and diversity allow for a wide range of product offerings, catering to various segments and preferences. The increasing awareness of style, comfort, and wellness among consumers has opened up opportunities for innovation and differentiation. Additionally, the rise of e-commerce and changing consumer behaviors are reshaping the retail landscape, offering exciting avenues for growth and engagement.

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