From shoe uppers to whole shoes, made-in-India footwear is beginning to go places. Rising input costs in China, the world’s shoe factory, is forcing the United States, which buys more shoes than any other country, look to India.
Apache Footwear Ltd, a China-based company and the largest manufacturer of Adidas shoes worldwide, recently signed an agreement with the Andhra Pradesh government to set up a manufacturing facility on a 314-acre site that will be accorded all the benefits of a special economic zone (SEZ).
The company has said it plans to manufacture one million pairs of shoes at the facility. Indian Footwear Components Manufacturers’ Association (IFCOMA) said rising costs of raw material and labour coupled with anti-dumping duty imposed by the European Union on Chinese-made shoes have dented their competitive edge in the global market.
More than 40 per cent of the 8.2 billion shoes made in China annually come from its Guandong province, where footwear companies are fast closing shop. The number of shoemakers in Guangdong's had dropped to 1,512 by February from 3,367 last year, according to customs statistics available with provincial authorities.
India accounts for 2.65 per cent of the world trade in leather and leather goods and the decline of Chinese exports has thrown up great opportunities for the local footwear industry, said Michael Duck, senior vice president, Asia Pacific Leather Fair (APLF).
That said, India has a long way to go.
China exports close to a billion pairs year, In contrast, India exports just 100 million pairs annually, said Aqeel Ahmed, President of Indian Shoe Federation said. APLF along with IFCOMA would be hosting an exhibition on footwear machinery and technology in India next year, bringing together local manufacturers with a host of buyers from the US and elsewhere. All the big brands in the sports footwear industry - Adidas, Reebok, Nike, Puma and Fila - are already manufacturing shoes in India through outsourcing contracts with domestic companies such as Lakhani Arman group and M&B Footwear Pvt Ltd.