The business that became the BATA Shoe Organization was established on August 24,1894 in Zlin, Czechoslovakia by Tomas Bata, and included his brother Antoninand sister Anna. Although this business was new, the Bata name had been part ofa tradition of shoe making for eight generations, spanning three hundred years.
It was one of the first modern-day shoe 'manufacturers', a team of stitchers and shoemakers creating footwear not just for the local town, but also for distant retail merchants. This departure from the centuries-old tradition of the one-man cobbler's workshop was a brand new concept, creating an entirely new industry.
TheBata enterprise revolutionized the treatment of employees and labourconditions. Tomas consistently maintained a human focus, creating opportunitiesfor development and advancement, and added compensation for employees based onachievement.
In late1895, Antonin was drafted into the army for compulsory military service andleft the family shoe business. Also that year, Anna left the company to marry,leaving a young Tomas to build the business on his own.
By 1905 Tomas had taken the new enterprise to 2,200 pairs ofshoes per day, produced by 250 employees - utilizing resourceful imaginations,skilled hands and modern machinery to keep up with demand. Under this'manufacturing' system, productivity was greater than ever before.
Bata® shoes were excellent quality and available in morestyles than had been offered before. Demand grew rapidly in the early 1900s.Despite material and manpower shortages, cartels and the outbreak of World WarI, sales continued to increase, reaching two million pairs per year by 1917.
As the enterprise prospered, so did the communities where itoperated. Tomas believed that a focus on people and public service was criticalfor business success. The enterprise built housing, schools and a hospital nearthe shoemaking plant in Zlin. It provided food and inexpensive rent during verydifficult times, when there was no other help to be found. Bata companies laterprovided rail services, construction, insurance, publishing and a tannery inZlin.
Following World War I, consumer purchasing power was verylow. Tomas and his employees devised a plan to adjust to post-war economicdifficulties and reduced their shoe prices. Bata® stores were flooded withbuyers, and industry cynics were forced to follow their lead.
Alreadyexporting to other European countries, Northern Africa and the USA, theenterprise began establishing new sales organizations inthese markets duringthe 1920s. Companies were opened in Poland, Yugoslavia, Holland, Denmark, theUnited Kingdom and the USA. By the early 1930s, the Bata enterprise andCzechoslovakia were the world's leading footwear exporters.
"The Bata System" devised by the Zlin team, andlater applied in other Bata Shoe Organization companies, organized operationsinto autonomous workshops and departments ("profit centres"),allowing employees to contribute ideas and stimulate production, andcontributed significant breakthroughs in footwear technology.
A great proponent of modern technology, Tomas Bata waslikely one of the first industrialists to travel by private airplane.Tragically in 1932, poor weather on takeoff near Zlin forced his airplane downand Tomas died in this plane accident.
By this time, new companies had been established in France,Austria, Romania, Sweden, Switzerland, Egypt, Belgium, Finland, Luxembourg,Hungary, Italy, Indonesia and Singapore, and by 1938, the Bata ShoeOrganization had established a unique and widespread presence, designing,producing and marketing footwear in more than 30 countries.
Thomas J. Bata, son of founder Tomas, had from an early agebeen active in the Bata Shoe Organization companies. He had already served inseveral leadership positions and would soon spearhead the establishment of theCanadian company. Thomas J. Bata was CEO of Bata Limited for over 40 years.
The Bata Shoe Organization regarded itself as a'multi-domestic' rather than multinational enterprise, making it a priority tocontribute to the economy in any new markets it entered. Production facilitieswere frequently added to sales organizations, beginning with Möhlin,Switzerland and Calcutta, India. Many other shoemaking plants followed, at arate of about two per year, until the 1960s.
During the 50s, 60s and 70s the Organization redoubled itsfocus on retailing excellence, international footwear branding, advancedmanufacturing techniques and extensive employee training, another Batatradition that dated back to the Organization's earliest years. TheOrganization continued to expand its retail operations, production facilitiesand moved into new countries of operation.
Thomas J. Bata, andson Thomas G. Bata, continued to lead the Organization with the traditionalphilosophy ensuring that each operation focused on customer satisfaction. Thefather and son team began redefining the Organization, as the worldmanufacturing base for footwear shifted to developing countries. New businessstrategies have been guided by the founding principles of focussing oncustomers, marketing and employees. Branded products, innovative retail storeconcepts, lifestyle merchandising, non-footwear products and participativeretailing have been introduced.
In 1992, the Organization and family were invited to returnto the Czech Republic, where Bata had remained a symbol of national pride andachievement.
Today the Bata family continues to be involved in theorganization, with Thomas G. Bata, grandson ofthe founder as Chairman.
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A few key facts• Foundedin Zlin, in what is now the Czech Republic, in 1894 by Tomas Bata
• Retailer,manufacturer and distributor of competitively priced commercial fashionfootwear and accessories
• Employsover 50,000 people in retail, manufacturing and wholesaling operations
• over4,700 company owned retail stores
• Batacompanies annually manufacture over 140,000,000 pairs of shoes in 46 production facilities andover 30 million square feet of leather in 9 tanneries
• Batacompanies serve almost 1 million customers each day
We arenow a limited liability Company. M/s. Bafin (Netherland) B.V. possesses 100%shareholding of Bata Sri Lanka with 12,187,500 Ordinary Shares.