ICE Today speaks with Mr. Sudarshan Reddy, COO of Apex Footwear Ltd. on where he sees export and retail in the leather industry in Bangladesh in the future

Mr. Sudarshan Reddy,
COO of
Apex Footwear Ltd.

The Bangladesh Govt has been giving patronage to the leather industry lately. Has it helped propel export to new heights?
Definitely. Footwear export has fetched 438 million USD in the last fiscal year and now this industry contributes 1.54% of the country’s total export earnings. There has been a positive growth of 8.55%. During July-November, 2017-18 the export performance was 252.81 million USD which was 21.47 million USD higher than the target. This has resulted in a 700% increase in export in the last decade.

What is the difference in your experience between running such large retail operations in Bangladesh and India?
I have noticed a basic difference in the use of technologies in both backends as well as frontend. You see, India is very system-driven and their inventory and warehouses are managed with the least amount of human intervention. In terms of customer tracking, profiling, and lifetime analysis, India has always been ahead in the frontend with technology. Also, we have observed that the customers here are not used to getting rewards or benefits.

When it comes to processor operations, I think India is more structured and value driven. We are used to valuing processes that generate higher revenue. Bangladesh has recently adopted similar ways which are why I believe this sector is now growing faster than ever.

Bangladesh has such high rates of the unemployed population with no proper training or centers where you can get real-time job experiences, that lack of manpower makes a huge difference. In the initial days, it was hard to find people with even basic knowledge in Visual Merchandising in Bangladesh.

What your work style?
I basically believe in teamwork. I am very much the person who is involved deeply with the concept of People Management because according to me, ‘people” are the “assets” of any organization and they are the ones who can bring change.

If you had one piece of advice for a young entrepreneur what would it be?
Believe in yourself and chase your dreams. But whatever you do has to be honest and do something you are passionate about. Be focused and do not ever get demotivated by the hurdles or failures in life.

What do you see as the future of the leather industry in Bangladesh?
The future of the footwear industry is in retail. As the purchasing power of the consumers increases annually, people will tend to expend most of their income on purchasing retail products. Due to the increased consumer power, companies will further look to enhance their brand image and reputation in order to lure in more consumers. The local home-built brands will, in turn, continue to strengthen and expand their bases. Meanwhile, as all the companies constantly aim to grow towards capturing the retail market, newer integrations in this pursuit will give growth to new jobs such as a thriving salesforce that represents the brand and knows how to portray the brand image to the right set of audience. Incorporating technology to system-orientated will make the process less time consuming, systematic and robust. Another thing to add is, most brands here don’t have a sense of belonging or a strong brand personality that is consistent, through and through cohesive, so, visual merchandisers come into play to create just that for a brand. Lastly, I’d like to say that there’s definitely scope that has yet to be utilized, and more importantly, we should be ready to grab the opportunity as it comes.