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Bata Philippines opens at SM Megamall

Partnering with the SM Group, Bata Philippines has opened its first store at SM Megamall in Manila.

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“We never hesitated,” says Thomas Archer Bata, who attended the launch, referring to the brand’s linking up with the Sy family, which grew a shoe outlet into supermarket development conglomerate SM Group. “Also, we have had a friendship with the SM Group and the Sy family for some time.”

Bata Shoe Co originated in Zlin, in what is now the Czech Republic, in 1894. It was founded by Tomás Bat’a, whose grandson, Thomas George, is on the management board along with his sisters Christine, Monica and Rosemarie. Thomas Archer, the chief marketing officer, is a fourth-generation cousin.

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Bata has 5000 retail outlets in 70 countries, with a strong presence in India and a factory in Thailand since the 1970s. The company would have entered the Philippines earlier, but there were legal complications related to its trademark, says Thomas Bata. “It took many, many years to resolve. Fortunately, with the help of SM, we managed to resolve it.”

He says the brand is going to “tread cautiously” in the Philippines with plans to open between eight and 15 stores in SM malls in Metro Manila.

He says the company follows a “responsible capitalism moral testament” formulated by its founder: it should not be treated as a source of private wealth but, rather, as a public trust, a means of improving living standards within the community and providing customers with good value for their money.

“We are very environment-friendly. Our factories are audited on a yearly basis for their sustainability,” says Bata. “Our founder more than 100 years ago believed in sustainability, in producing as little waste as possible, and that is still the case. We always use environment-friendly materials and suppliers.”

Meanwhile, Bata says the company is talking to potential partners in the Philippines to work on some collaborative projects, and is planning with SM how to roll out a rural education program for young girls.

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