Due to the increase in demand for global brands, the average annual growth rate of exports of synthetic footwear and sports shoes from Bangladesh in the last five years has been about 20 percent.
During the July-October period of the current financial year, non-leather footwear shipments bagged $133.49 million in export earnings, up by roughly 4 percent compared to $127.92 million during the same period in FY2020-21.
The industry’s annual export earnings had reached $344.46 million last year, a gain of a whopping 41 percent compared to $244.09 million in FY2017-18, shows data from the Export Promotion Bureau.
The growth in shipments is due to increasing work orders from renowned international buyers such as Fila, Graceland, Jenny Fairy, Denali Shoes, Ben Sherman, Hugo Boss, H&M, Decathlon, Steve Madden, Kappa, Skechers, and Puma.
Riad Mahmud, managing director of Shoeniverse Footwear Ltd, said the quality and reasonable prices of synthetic shoes made in Bangladesh helped its exports thrive.
“And since the potential of the non-leather footwear sector is high, we consider it as a good alternative to garments as the country’s leading export earner,” he added.
But even though the making of synthetic footwear is now a major industry, very few large-scale companies have shown any interest in it.
“So, considering the industry’s potential for growth, more professional and structured companies could do very well in this business,” Mahmud said.
Shoeniverse Footwear’s export earnings grew by 29.19 per cent, 49.28 per cent and 40.52 per cent respectively in the last three financial years.
Echoing the same, Syed Nasim Manzur, managing director of Apex Footwear, says non-leather footwear now has greater export potential than leather shoes.
As such, synthetic footwear makers performed well even amidst the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The shift in demand from traditional leather shoes to non-leather or synthetic footwear is mostly due to the growing appetite from younger generations in the world.
Apex Footwear exported more than five lakh pairs of non-leather shoes last year, and the company expects its shipment volume to continue to increase rapidly.
Maf Shoes, another synthetic footwear maker in the country with a capacity to produce 50,000 pairs of shoes daily, is also witnessing impressive export growth, according to the company’s executive director Mohammad Shahadat Ullah.
Considering the vast potential of the industry, the government has given priority to sports and synthetic footwear under its latest export policy.
Currently, the government is giving a 4 per cent cash incentive on the exports from the highly labour-intensive industry. Find more.