ICRA’s outlook on the Indian footwear sector is negative on the back of pressures on turnover growth due to weak consumer sentiment, reduced discretionary spend and continuing slowdown in the European continent. In FY2016 and Q1 FY2017, footwear export companies witnessed pressure on their volumes leading to a decline in turnover and weakening of profit margins. The weak macroeconomic environment in the Eurozone has led to sluggish demand, which has impacted their sales and also contracted their order books.
Indian footwear exports reported de-growth of 0.5% during FY2016 in value terms (and de-growth of 7% in US $ terms) due to weak demand from the European continent which forms the largest market for the Indian footwear companies. The Indian companies have been trying to increase exports to other continents, especially the USA, but there has been limited success till date. China continues to be the dominant player in global footwear exports with a volumetric share of 69%, however its share has reduced by almost 400 basis points over the last two years. While India has not been able to gain from this opportunity, Vietnam has benefited the most as is reflected in an annualized growth of 22% in its footwear exports between 2013 and 2015.
According to Mr. Shubham Jain, Vice-President, ICRA, “Weak macroeconomic environment in the European markets has put pressure on revenues and profitability of the Indian footwear exporters as they continue to have almost 70% exposure to such markets. Our interactions with the management of leading footwear export companies suggest that there has been contraction in export orders by ~25% in the recent quarters. This is likely to impact the financials of footwear export companies in the short to medium term. However, most of the footwear companies have stalled or deferred their capital expenditure plans which is expected to keep their debt levels controlled.”
Indian domestic footwear companies have also witnessed pressure on sales volumes in the recent quarters due to weak consumer sentiment. This has constrained their ability to increase the retail prices of products, thereby leading to modest turnover growth in the recent quarters. Currently, the Indian footwear sector is highly fragmented with almost 15000 small and medium enterprises operating largely in the unorganised segment; and limited presence of organised segment. In ICRA’s View, the implementation of a unified Goods & Services Tax (GST) is expected to increase tax compliance and make the supply chain more efficient, thereby narrowing the cost differentials between the organised and the unorganised sector and increase the share of organised segment.
“For the Indian footwear sector to witness healthy growth going forward, ICRA believes that strong Government push is required with focus on promotion of exports, employment generation, fiscal incentives for foreign direct investment and capacity addition and relaxed labour norms.” Mr. Jain added.
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