Thomas G. Bata Praises Store and Factory Updates during Zimbabwe Trip

From May 20 to 27, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas G. Bata visited three major cities in Zimbabwe, in order to learn about a host of updates and improvements that have taken place in the company's stores and at its Bata factory. In addition, the trip also included a shoeline review and the official opening of the form three classroom building of the Sarah Bata Senior School.

Their trip saw them spend time Bulawayo, Gweru and Harare, accompanied by Nicole Voillat, director of sustainability; Hala Zakhour, group talent development director; Lucia Lot, head of training; Louise Tracy, Compass secretary and general manager and country manager of Bata Zimbabwe Ehsan Zaman, along with his wife.

The trip began in Bulawayo, affectionately known as the city of Kings and Queens, where the Zaman conducted an extensive retail tour. Stores which had undergone major renovations and expansions were highlighted, and he also pointed out the major improvement in store layout and segmentation which has contributed significantly to the performance of the stores.

After the Bulawayo visit, the team drove 150 kilometers to Gweru, to the Bata Zimbabwe head offices. In Gweru, the group had the opportunity to meet senior managers at a garden dinner organized by the country manager dedicated to recognizing each person’s contributions to the positive business results achieved.

On May 23, a shoeline review was held, presented by collection manager Moreblessing Shumba and product development manager Kevin Zinyama. The review covered the 120 new lines introduced in the past year through local production, including men’s and ladies sandals, local Weinbrenner lines, the improved and diversified Tomy and North Star brands and the local favorites, PataPata and Sandak categories.

Zaman placed special emphasis on the attractive price points and good margins the local production has brought, due to increased efficiency in the manufacturing departments. He explained: “We are producing acryl leather which will be used on school and dress shoes and that will significantly lower the product cost compared to using 100 percent genuine leather. The same splits will also be used to make laminated leather which in the past was imported. Our tannery will produce it at a cost 25 percent lower.”

A facory tour then followed, showcasing the factory upgrades and the improved efficiencies due to new layout and new machinery. Mr. Bata was pleased with the noteworthy improvements in the housekeeping, productivity and more importantly, the industrial relations environment. Mr. Bata particularly commended the significant improvements which had taken place in the tannery, especially considering it had previously been earmarked to be outsourced, and its new level of productivity and improved leather quality remained the highlight of the factory tour.

The program continued with the meeting of promising members of staff and the celebration of 27 Bata Zimbabwe employees for reaching 25 years of loyal service with the company. A dinner held to mark the occasion featured colorful African printed outfits, and recipients expressed their gratitude to have Mr. and Mrs. Bata at their award ceremony.

On May 24, the group attended the official inauguration of the Sarah Bata Senior School form three classroom building, before moving on to Harare, where the retail department took the opportunity to showcase their newly opened stores, Bata Mabelreign and Bata Arundel. Mr. Bata took the time to congratulate the retail team for the impressive improvements and expansion taking place, and encouraged them to continue to regain market share and to provide customers with a full shopping experience.

The trip concluded with a special dinner at a local restaurant in the company of several foreign dignitaries, including the US ambassador to Zimbabwe, and the Head of Mission from the Czech Republic.

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