13 Dec 2019 18:24 IST

Relaxo: cushioning your feet since 1984

The founder spends a lot of time walking around in various pairs of slippers to test them

Mukund Lal Dua spends a significant part of his time walking around in various pairs of slippers or flip-flops, testing his company’s products to see if the comfort and grip are just right for the customer. He is the director of Relaxo Footwears Ltd. His brother, Ramesh Kumar Dua, CEO and MD, believes that the way the wearer’s big toe slides into a slipper is the determining factor in the purchase and, ultimately, spells success for the product. It is this level of dedication to customer satisfaction — at the very top level of management — that has brought Relaxo into the top league of footwear manufacturers today.

In the 1970s, the two brothers decided to help their father, who had rented out a property he owned and, with a deposit of ₹10,000, started his business in Delhi, where it is headquartered even today. Started as a business that manufactured footwear as well as cycle parts, it discarded the latter in 1976 and decided to focus fully on footwear. To this end, Ramesh Kumar Dua, a commerce graduate, set out to learn the rubber business.

The business began with just one product — the Hawai chappal. There were many products in the market at that time and, to differentiate their product, the founders named their brand ‘Relaxo’.

Relaxo Footwears Ltd was incorporated in 1984. In 1995, when the government declared that footwear was no longer the preserve of the small-scale industry, Relaxo capitalised on the move by setting up a plant in Haryana to manufacture 50,000 pairs a day and went public the same year.

The capacity of the Haryana plant was expanded in 2000. Within five or six years, sub-brands Flite and Sparx were launched.

From 1995, the company started to advertise its products, beginning with simple jingles. By 2012, it had grown to bring on board celebrities for endorsements. It launched an e-commerce platform, completely revamped its corporate identity and strengthened its distribution network. It has its shopping portal and is also available on Flipkart, Snapdeal and Amazon.

Quality and affordability

Relaxo’s strategy has always been to keep prices affordable, while maintaining quality and adding new design features. Its R&D team keeps track of all footwear variables from seasonality to age-specific designs and features; and terrain adaptations to fashion aspirations, even as comfort and durability remain the key criteria. It depends on consumer and dealer feedback, both pre-and post-sales, to come out with innovative designs.

 

As products roll out of its ten manufacturing units spread across northern India, its 800-strong dealer network, reaching out to about 50,000 multi-branded outlets, ensures that the customer always gets what he/she wants.

Relaxo’s manufacturing facilities maintain stringent quality and testing standards and have several certifications, for quality, environmental management, occupational health and safety assessment and manufacturing standards.

Relaxo also has more than 250 company-operated stores spread across 140 cities in nine States, where all its brands are available. While Relaxo Hawai is synonymous with the rubber footwear category, Sparx is for the tough and stylish; Bahamas exudes colourful and stylish fun; Flite (fashionable + lite), makes an exclusive style statement for youth and is available in casual and formal designs; and Schoolmate is a comfortable and durable range for school kids.

Awards, social responsibility

The company manufactures about six lakh pairs of 400 different types across its sub-brands, every day. Its turnover in 2019 was reportedly about ₹2,300 crore.

The brand has built up a strong customer base in places like Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, UP, Jharkhand, Bihar and the North-East. Since 2006, Relaxo has been exporting its products to South-East Asia, SAARC, GCC, Africa and Latin American countries.

Relaxo has won several awards. The Council for Leather Exports (CLE) awarded it the first place for best export performance in non-leather footwear, 2014-15; it won India’s Best Corporate Brand 2016 at The Economic Times Best Corporate Brands Summit; Sparx has been ranked among India’s most trusted brands in the footwear category as per Brand Trust Report 2016; and Plan Man Media recognised it as Power Brand of the Year 2015.

Relaxo has been active on the CSR front. It has provided comprehensive healthcare for 14 villages; established a vision centre to treat preventable blindness in Tijara, Rajasthan; and has enabled far-flung areas to receive medical treatment through mobile medical units equipped with modern medical facilities. It is an active participant in a project under which government schools are adopted and transformed into modern schools. It financially supports vocational training centres and empowers school students by supplying them with android-powered tablets. It is also addressing gender norms to transform educational outcomes along with the Haryana government in Jhajjar and Rohtak.

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