Pakistani shoe maker sets foot in Kenya

October 6, 2010

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 6 – A Pakistani-based shoe manufacturer has launched operations in Kenya with a promise to revolutionalise the footwear market.

Servis Group Chief Executive Officer Omar Saeed said they would import 80 percent of their stock from Pakistan and source the remainder from local factories as they seek to give choices to consumers.

"We want to compete in the retail sector. So we want to offer shoes for people who want branded footwear and from what I\’ve seen, the branded footwear market is underserved. Customers need choices and that\’s the main reason we entered the Kenyan market," he said.

Although he\’s aware that second hand shoes dominate the market whose size is not known due to a lack of adequate statistics, the CEO said they hoped to capture a 10 percent market share in the next two years.

"This is an undocumented market and this is one of the challenges that we are facing. But we want to do clean and ethical business despite the challenges. The first hurdle that we have come to, is that local manufacturing is necessary to cater to the mass market where we want to operate," Mr Saeed told Capital Business after the launch of their Nairobi-based store.

The chain plans to have its own manufacturing factory in Kenya by mid next year either through an acquisition or setting up its facility.

"We want to seriously explore an option to buy an existing factory here so that we can invest in upgrading the factory which would make our entry quicker and bigger. I hope we can buy something but if we don\’t, then we will set something up," the CEO disclosed.

Doing so would not only help boost the local leather sector but also put them in a position to exploit their strategy of producing affordable shoes for the mass market.

Later, the group hopes to use Kenya as a launching pad to expand operations into the East African market the CEO said, although he did not disclose the timelines within which this would happen.

Present at the function was Pakistani Ambassador to Kenya Masroor Junejo who lauded Servis for opening the subsidiary in Kenya saying it would go a long way in diversifying trade between the two countries beyond the traditional sectors of rice and tea.

Pointing out that the two countries share political goodwill as evidenced by Kenya\’s food donation to the Asian country\’s flood victims, the envoy regretted that this has not been reflected in the trade and economic statistics.

"There\’s improvement in the bilateral trade every year but there is certainly a lot of room for improvement," he said while also pitching for the setting up of Kenyan companies in his country which he said has good investment climate.



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