Bata Zimbabwe Brings Back Sandak: “The Right Direction”

Sandak shoes are remembered fondly in Zimbabwe from a very popular 1990s commercial that implied if you were wearing them, you were going in “the right direction.” Now they are back in local production!

Demand for a quality plastic alternative to comparable versions on the informal market was behind the comeback, as was the manufacturing expertise of company manager Ehsan Zaman.

Before the return of this icon to the Gweru factory in January, Sandak shoes were last made there in 2006.

Manufacturing personnel worked as a team to resuscitate Sandak machinery and successfully revive the project. Support from Bata Zambia, Kenya and Pakistan was also key, as these sister companies embodied the spirit of the Bata Core Value “Count on Me.”

Zimbabwean Sandak fashion shoes are ideal for multiple occasions. For women there are the summer sandals Sogano, Rock and Susana, and the Nowel was the talk of the town for men back in the day. The Sandak brand is about volume business, and after its success, Bata Zimbabwe went on to manufacture the plastic school shoes Anold and Tonymayo.

Now, with an initial daily output target of 1,600 pairs, five articles – Janet, Juliana, Grey, Friend and Johnson – have been selected for production. The market has responded positively to the reintroduction of these practical shoes. At the convenient price of $2.50 for a pair of women’s shoes, they are affordable to most Zimbabweans.

Veteran shoemaker Athanas Tadziripa, was previously located at the Sandak factory in Mutare and has been with Bata Zimbabwe for 35 years. He said, “It brings back so many fond memories to be producing Sandak again. The market response to the reintroduction of Juliana reassures me that the Zimbabwe public is looking for value for money, which they believe Bata delivers on. The softer but stronger PVC material used on the Juliana has brought an element of luxury to this icon, which I believe the general public will appreciate.”

Tadziripa believes that the new Sandak will reach across the economic divide in the country due to the combination of its price point and quality.

Retail manager Augustine Mufute commented, “This takes me back to the days of Sandak jingles by Bata, which ring vividly in my mind to this day: ’You are in the right direction.’ With the reintroduction of Sandak, customers across the nation have expressed nostalgia, as it has reminded them of the then Zimbabwe. I look forward to good volume sales.”