Agra-based Metro and Metro Shoes enter women’s footwear market

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Metro and Metro Shoes have carved out a place for themselves in the men’s shoe market. And now the brand’s spotlight is on its recently launched women’s footwear segment.

Launched in 1972 by Dwarka Nath Kalsi, the Agra-based shoemaker specializes in dress shoes, boots, flip flops, sneakers, and more.

Globally, the company exports to major footwear giants like Hush Puppies, Clark’s, Deichmann, and more, in countries like the United States, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Germany, Portugal, and Sweden, among others.

Over the past decade, Subway and subway shoes entered the domestic market and launched an online marketplace with its brand, Overdrive.

Now, you may wonder what took this five-decade-old company so long to enter the women’s footwear segment?

Meenakshi Kalsi, Managing Partner, Metro and Metro Shoes, says SMBStory,

“There are many complexities in women’s shoes – different sets of production rules, and the market is also very different. There are formal, comfort, heels, wedges, etc. in women’s shoes.

Meenakshi’s eldest daughter, Arushi Kalsi, helps her on this journey. The third-generation prodigy showed a fondness for the family business during her studies.

In 2015, after graduating, she studied shoemaking tips and tricks at the Deutsche Schuhfachschule. The Germany-based institution specializes in shoemaking and engineering.

“My husband Ajit wanted to make sure she wasn’t as unprepared as I was before joining us,” Meenakshi says. Today, Meenakshi says she is confident enough to run the women’s shoe business on her own, along with her eldest daughter Arushi.

The women’s footwear segment

Metro and Metro Shoes decided to venture into this segment amid the COVID-19 pandemic. After conducting extensive market research, the company decided to focus on the comfort footwear segment.

According to Invest India, the Indian footwear industry which houses brands like Woodland, Metro Shoes, Relaxo, Bata, etc., is expected to reach $15.5 billion by the end of 2022.

In addition, the country is the world’s second largest producer of footwear and the fifth largest exporter of leather goods.

Metro and Metro Shoes worked to find the right product with its designers from India, Italy and other countries, who have been with the company for 15-20 years.

With a manufacturing unit in Agra and a dozen assembly lines, the company will dedicate some of them to the manufacture of women’s shoes.

At present, Metro and Metro Shoes produce 1,000 men’s shoes every day. While the number of women’s shoes made is small, he plans to increase that to around 1,500 in the coming months.

The women’s footwear segment will contribute about 10 to 15 percent of the company’s overall revenue, Meenakshi said.

The history of the shoe

Currently, Metro and Metro Shoes is run by Meenakshi’s husband, Ajit Nath Kalsi, who joined the company in 1991.

Formerly known as Leatherfact, the company changed its name after the disintegration of the USSR, the brand’s only customer at the time.

The company suffered from the unfavorable conditions in the Soviet Union and Ajit started building the brand from scratch after 1991.

In 1993, after Meenakshi and Ajit got married, she started to get interested in business operations. However, in the mid-2000s, she also saw the need to get into production, as Dwarka and Ajit would be on a business trip for a month.

New to the business, Meenakshi enlisted the help of a Russian gentleman (who worked with the Kalsis) to understand the art of shoemaking locally.

In fact, Arushi also launched Overdrive—Vertical B2C (business-to-customer) of Metro and Metro Shoes — in 2018. Overdrive is a leather footwear brand that sells men’s shoes, including dress shoes, loafers, casual wear, casual wear, party, etc It also sells accessories like socks, shoe care kits, leather bracelets, etc.

Today, approximately 80% of the company’s revenue comes from its B2B (business-to-business), and the rest of its retail brand, mainly oriented to Amazon, Flipkart and its website.

In the financial year 2020, the company recorded Rs 151 crore.

Prod Meenakshi on the sequel, and if they plan to establish an offline presence, she says, “It’s definitely on the cards,” adding that the company’s shoes will be on select multi-brand outlets in the coming months.

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