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Orion steps into upmarket footwear business

orion_1A new footwear company — Orion Footwear Ltd — is set to start its journey today to cater to the middle- to high-income segments of the market.

“Despite the presence of many footwear companies, those segments’ tastes are not catered to. We aim to fill that gap,” Md Ruhul Amin Molla, the company’s chief executive officer, told The Daily Star.

The company will showcase its own-brand products, which will be conceived by its in-house design team and manufactured by local suppliers, as well as those from leading brands from abroad. Prices will range from Tk 500 to Tk 10,000 a pair.

Orion Footwear will start sales at the Dhaka International Trade Fair, which is set to begin on Thursday.

By mid-January, it will open three stores, each spanning 2,500 square feet on average, in Gulshan, Banani and Wari, Molla said.

The company, a unit of Orion Group, plans to invest around Tk 150 crore in the next five years to build the business, he said.

Orion Footwear’s entry comes at a time when the market is brimming with competitive local brands. Furthermore, many companies are opening new stores to increase sales.

Meanwhile, a number of industry people say the home market, which has long been dominated by multinational Bata and local Apex and shunned by exporters producing high-quality wares for Western buyers, is progressively becoming more attractive for footwear makers, as exports entail a lot of complexities.

While the exact statistics on retail footwear sales are hard to come by, one estimate puts the annual sales figure to be Tk 2,400 crore by assuming that at least one pair of shoes is used by one person.

The leather industry in the past three decades has transformed itself from the low value-addition tanning activity to a producer of leather footwear and leather goods along with the high value-added crust and finished leather, according to experts.

It exported a record $1.29 billion last fiscal year, up 32.12 percent year-on-year, according to the Export Promotion Bureau.

Orion Group is one of the leading industrial conglomerates, with concerns in: pharmaceuticals, infrastructure development, cosmetics, real estate and construction, power, high-tech agro products, hospitality, textiles and garments and aviation management. It employs 18,000 professionals, according to its website.

The company will unveil its footwear venture today at a programme at the capital’s Westin Hotel.

Report: Suman Saha
Source: Daily Star

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