As our customers become more and more demanding and the marketplace gets increasinglycrowded we have realized that our best bet for winning is by offering a great product.And so for the past year we have singularly focused on the strategy of 'Product is king'!Here we have explored and identified for ourselves a unique space which is owning'comfort with style' as a brand. That has enabled us to not only create comfort relatedinnovations on large scale but also add contemporary sleek and quality styling to ourproducts.
After getting the product right the other key milestone that we accomplished was to becommercially aggressive. We have actively mapped the consumer preferences fashion trendsand demands to the right target audiences through our over 1290 retail stores across 500cities in India. Our offerings are becoming more contemporary with comfort and wow pricingas strong differentiators. We have evolved from building a wide range across multiplecategories to now launching more flagship products and hero collections across categories.
We have been following a dual strategy of driving same store growth and opening newstores in under-served locations and cities. Geographically the consumption story and theneed for great shopping experience are not limited to only the urban centres. In factnon-urban markets are growing equally fast with consumers from Tier 2 and Tier 3 citiesaspiring for better designs. Bata India has increased its focus on smaller towns withinternationally-designed stores being launched in these areas. The latest ones are atThodupuzha and Angamaly- Tier 2 towns near Kochi Kerala. These large sized modernconcept stores are unique with their clutter free aesthetics and visual impact whichcreates a truly international shopping experience for our customers.
Now we are at the stage even globally where we are focusing on evolving Bata theBrand and to encompass style and fashion very intrinsically as well. At present we aredeveloping the communication across all touch points to convey Bata's point of view onthese attributes. We are also substantially increasing our advertising budget for 2017. Inrecent past there have been a range of stylish collections launched like thehand-crafted premium 'European Collection' in Men's Dress space 'The Buckline' collectiongiving a fashion fillip to Men's Business Casual range and the 'Festive' range forparty/marriage wear for women. All these new initiatives were well received by our patronsand so it has made us confident about our new focus.
Attracting and nurturing talent to build a robust pipeline of leadership has been anongoing focus for the Company. Our diversified workforce ranges from those at theforefront in our retail stores to those who translate innovative ideas into products.Retaining and motivating the best people with the right skills at all levels is the keyfocus to ensure that the organization's objective is accomplished.
This year young women are the new focus market for Bata India. The first step was tosharply define our audience and understand her aspirations so as to tailor-make ouroffering to
excite and entice her. This has helped shape our new brand manifesto to celebrate themodern woman. Our new television campaign of Bata - 'Me. And comfortable with it' has beenlaunched highlighting the brand's admiration for women in a very special way andpresenting a glimpse of the transformation in Bata's image and product line. At theproduct level our women focus is supported through our latest Bata Insolia range of heelswith technology that enables women to 'walk taller walk further'. Leveraging on thepatented technology of Insolia - owned by American company HBN - Bata's new line of heelscan be worn three times longer than regular heels and reduce the pressure on the front ofthe foot by almost 30%. This is a benefit that no other brand can claim and our womencustomers are loving it.
But it's not just the women's category which has kept our attention the children'scategory is also growing at a very fast rate and offers a big opportunity for growth. Wehave made concrete plans to corner a major share of this market and have built a wideportfolio covering different occasions like school sports outdoor indoor etc. underBubblegummers and Disney brands. The children's category which has been the legacy ofBata will be seeing further expansion in the coming times.
With majority of the population in India becoming younger new ways to connect with thenew customers and launching new collections of footwear at a faster pace becomeimperative. The needs for footwear are becoming increasingly specific especially insports and athleisure. We have always introduced our products based on consumers' needsand insights. Also with more and more people living healthier lifestyles we have launchedthe Power XoRise Collection with 4D mesh memory foam and Tunnel technology for a"run more tire less" proposition.
In another first Bata India has partnered with fbb Colors Femina Miss India 2017 astheir official Footwear/Ramp walk partner bringing Bata firmly in all style conversationsthroughout the pageant season and beyond. Their 29 state winners also graced our key Batastores all over the Country and brought alive the conversation of styling wardrobe andthe need for great shoes in life!
Our achievements have further been encouraged and recognized by Dun & BradstreetCorporate Award as 'Top Indian Footwear Brand for 2017' and Images Retail 'Most AdmiredRetailer of the Year - Footwear' for 2016-17.
Last one year saw all of us at Bata constantly evolving with the changing times. Theconsumers going forward will be more digitally savvy craving for newer levels ofexperiences and latest footwear solutions which are more customized and individualistic inapproach and Bata India will mirror these needs in all its offerings.
As always I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for reposing your immensetrust in us and growing with us. We will continue to try and keep this journey assuccessful as it has been in the legacy spanning more than eight decades.