Read on for an edited and condensed version of the article.
For the majority of Singaporeans, the story of Bata began when they enrolled in elementary school.
The italicized hallmark of sturdy footwear for children gleamed from the depths of heartland malls, a blazing red sign that has long etched itself into the local fashion culture.
The stores always stood out for their ambience: big cushy chairs, spacious layouts, and uniformed staff. Rows of starched white shoes gleamed from the shelves, usually flanked by options of earth-toned pumps or black flats, and all priced at an affordable range.
But not many realize that Bata has European roots dating all the way back to 1894.
And now the story is being revamped for 2017. Over the last few months, the global direction of Bata has pivoted into an edgier attitude with the new manifesto “Me & Comfortable with it.” Bata Bullets is perhaps the epitome of how a century-old brand can successfully revamp itself to fit into modern times without compromising their mission to stay accessible to everyone.
Pierluigi Pontecorvo, country manager of Bata Singapore, talked to us about the brand’s journey and new direction.
Can you tell us a little bit more about Bata’s history and journey since its opening in Singapore back in 1931?
Bata started building its name in the then Malaya when the first store opened at Capitol Building, Singapore in August 1931. Tomáš Baťa established Bata Shoe Company Limited to carry on the business as a manufacturer, distributor and marketer of footwear.
Although Bata is a global company with a presence in over 70 countries, our approach is local. This allows us to respond to the unique needs and wants in the Singapore market. As a result, we are honored to be a “local” international company in Singapore with a total of 43 outlets here.
In your opinion, what are the most important features when shoe shopping?
We have three important focus areas when it comes to shoes: style, comfort and affordability.
Firstly, we want our consumers to be attracted by the styles and designs we have, and then try on our shoes and be happy with the comfort.
Finally, they will be surprised by the price, as they will be getting more than what they are paying for.
What has been the biggest challenge on this journey?
I am sure many Singaporeans have grown up with the Bata brand and its association with school wear. However, I am excited to share that we have more than just the usual back-to-school and kids’ collections.
By creating a pleasant shopping experience and frequently launching new stylish designs, we are working tirelessly to offer the shoes people want, not just the shoes that people need.
Will Bata be reaching out to a new demographic with this image shift?
Yes, we will be in a way focusing on a new demographic, as we aim to continue to reach those consumers who have left us after leaving school.
That being said, we will not lose focus on our existing consumers, as we value all our consumers equally. We are dedicated to producing designs that are on trend to stay in line with what general consumers want.
Now more than ever, we are focusing on combining quality with comfort and style to make the Bata brand synonymous with excellence.