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Published on: June 3, 2021, 4:31 p.m.
Liberty steps into a new normal
  • Liberty Shoes has 400 exclusive stores across India. The company is now focussing on training its staff on tele-marketing so they may take online orders

By Yeshi Seli. Assistant Editor, Business India

The pandemic has turned many businesses upside down, so much so that new strategies had to be thought over to remain afloat. In tune with the new compulsions, Liberty Shoes has begun to offer home delivery of its products; it is also concentrating on casual wear for now.

“The pandemic and its impact have been unprecedented,” says Anupam Bansal, director, Liberty Shoes Limited. “We too have felt the tremors. Even during the first wave, we realised that we would have to focus on products that were casual and affordable. In line with that thought, we began home delivery of our products two months back.”

Liberty Shoes has launched brands like Aha, Clogs, Foot Spa and Cloud foam and kept the range affordable at prices below Rs1,000. “We have realised that formal footwear won’t sell for a while; so, we are promoting the comfort wear segment for men, women and children,” adds Bansal. Concurs Virender Narwal, distributor & franchise partner, Liberty Shoes: “While the Covid crisis has hit the domestic market drastically, the open category products of washable pairs from Aha have helped potential customers to channel their needs, maintaining the economical crux amidst the business cycle.”

Liberty Shoes has 400 exclusive stores across India. The company is now focussing on training its staff on tele-marketing so they may take online orders. Exports too have taken a beating due to the pandemic. Earlier, Liberty’s export markets had included the Middle East, Thailand and Singapore.

One of the few positive things that have happened since last year is a shift in customers’ preference to Indian products from Chinese. “People are now willing to forgo their interest in Chinese footwear and opt for brands like ours,” says Bansal, adding that the company’s present turnover is touching R610 crore.

Meanwhile, the stocks of the company are doing fairly well too. “The stock can be considered a dark horse in the consumption sector, as it has been taking advantage of opportunities and continuing growth in the organised industry,” observes Ashish Kapur, CEO, InvestShoppe. “About one-third of the industry is dominated by the unorganised sector and a strong distribution reach to the masses is likely to help this company drive higher growth. New launches and foray in other lifestyle products like fragrances are additional key catalysts, going ahead.”

Weak results

Compared to other players like Bata and Relaxo in the industry, Liberty is quite small, with a market capitalisation of just Rs235 crore. “The total revenue of about Rs500 crore and a book value of Rs110 crore makes it an interesting stock from a valuation perspective,” adds Kapur. “Currently, Liberty’s stock has underperformed due to weak results, impacted by the lockdowns. One should keep an eye on its quarterly results and the management’s outlook. Any improvement in financials is likely to provide superior stock returns, considering that a lot of investors are focussing on small cap stocks.”

  • Cloud foam is an affordable brand

    Cloud foam is an affordable brand

Liberty Shoes came into existence in 1954. Beginning with making four pairs a day, the company has now progressed to owning six manufacturing units. Interestingly, India is the second largest footwear manufacturer in the world, with 9 per cent of the annual global production of 22 billion pairs. At present, about 90 per cent of the footwear produced in India is consumed by the domestic market and the remaining is exported. In terms of consumption, India is the third largest globally, after China and the US.

A lot has changed since the outbreak of the pandemic. New trends in fashion have emerged, where consumers are prioritising comfort. It is for this reason that shoe manufacturing companies like Liberty have shifted their focus to casual footwear. Even when lockdowns are lifted and life limps back to normal, it is likely that people will continue to support comfort over style – the new normal. 

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