Sandeep Kataria,Global CEO of Bata

Last December, Bata India CEO Sandeep Kataria scripted a new chapter in history when he was named the global CEO of Bata. Mr Kataria, in fact, became the first Indian to be elevated to a global role in the 126-year-old footwear company.

The 49-year-old Bata chief took over his new role from Alexis Nasard, who stepped down after almost five years at the helm of the famous footwear brand. Incidentally, with his promotion to the global level, Mr Kataria joins the distinguished league of Indian-origin executives who have climbed the highest echelons of multi-million-dollar global corporation across FMCG to IT and other diverse sectors.

An alumnus of IIT-Delhi and XLRI-Jamshedpur, the Bata CEO was a gold medallist of the 1993 PGDBM batch at XLRI. After 24 years of experience at Unilever, Yum Brands and Vodafone in India and Europe, Mr Kataria joined Bata India as CEO in 2017. His elevation to the global stage seems to be a rewarding recognition of Mr Kataria’s excellent work at Bata India.

In a short span of three years, Mr Kataria managed to transform Bata India and its numerous brands – Bata, Hush Puppies, Naturalizer, Power, Marie Claire and North Star, among others – into a vibrant footwear company. He helped drive the company’s consistent growth and profitability. Under his leadership of three years, Bata India’s consolidated net profit increased by a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 27.4 per cent to over Rs 329 crore in FY20. Bata India’s net sales also went up by almost 7 per cent to more than Rs 3,056 crore during the period under review.

Mr Kataria also played a significant role in revamping Bata’s image to a more vibrant and contemporary brand, targeted at young consumers. Intense competition in the Indian footwear market prompted Mr Kataria to offer premium products constantly, especially keeping the young millennials in mind. He also focused on innovation and new technologies and modernised the look of Bata stores.

Under Mr Kataria, Bata India invested heavily in expanding its product portfolio in line with evolving lifestyles of consumers. It also laid stress on innovation, new designs, new store openings, renovation and marketing campaigns. Bata also undertook online marketing initiatives using digital influencers.

From Bata India, it is a big leap for Mr Kataria onto the global stage. The Lausanne, Switzerland-headquartered multinational footwear-maker, founded by Czech businessman Tomas Bata in 1894, operates in more than 70 countries. Bata sells more than 18 crore pairs of shoes – made in its 22 manufacturing facilities across five continents –annually in 5,800 stores across the world.

As Mr Kataria takes charge, he faces the big challenge of pushing Bata’s sales across the globe. Besides, the new Bata chief has the onerous task of getting sales back to the pre-COVID level. Having successfully led the company’s operations in India, the world’s second-largest footwear market after China, it is more than likely that Mr Kataria would come up trumps in his new global role too.

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