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They supply more than just shoes

Jai Arjun Singh | March 19, 2005

It's been a leading brand in the men's shoes category for quite some time now. But after much sole-searching Red Tape has decided to spread its wings outside its core area of expertise.

Mirza Tanners, the company behind the brand, had already taken a step in that direction last year by venturing into the ladies' footwear market. But new plans include brand extensions into leather upholstery as well as a line of one-stop shops for men's wardrobe requirements.

"Men's footwear will continue to be our main line of business in the foreseeable future," says Rashid Mirza, managing director, Mirza Tanners, "but we are ready to make our presence felt in other categories."

Last year, the company set up a new factory for ladies' footwear in Greater Noida, on the outskirts of Delhi, with a manufacturing capacity of 3 million pairs per year.

Now it has bought land for a new factory to make leather furniture and car seat covers. "Furniture has a big market in the US as well as in most European countries," says Mirza.

Since the company has traditionally had an expertise in leather, these extensions won't mark a significant divergence from its core business strengths.

But where Mirza Tanneries is entering unfamiliar territory is in the men's wardrobe business. The company is setting up a design studio in Mumbai, tying up with designers and getting into a range of accessories, including clothing, sportswear, a line of watches and aftershaves.

"We don't see any competition as such, since there's really no existing culture of one-stop shops for men's requirements," says Mirza. "We will be targeting fashionable young male customers who are already wearing Red Tape shoes and who have respect for the brand name."

The first set of company-owned shops will be opened in September-October this year and 10 shops, spread across the metros, will be operational by the year's end. "We eventually hope to extend the number to 100 shops around the country," says Mirza.

Mirza Tanneries can afford to be optimistic, and even perhaps a little blase, about its new projects, since its main line of business -- men's shoes -- has been making rapid strides; from a turnover of Rs 170 crore (Rs 1.7 billion) last year, the company is projecting Rs 250 crore (Rs 2.5 billion) in 2005.

About 80 per cent of this production (by quantity) is for the export market, which has traditionally been the company's strength, though it is also continuing to take strides in the domestic market.

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