Bata Ltd. is a privately owned global shoe manufacturer and retailer headquartered in Ontario, Canada. The company is led by a third generation of the Bata family. With operations in 68 countries, Bata is organized into four business units. Bata Canada, based in Toronto, serves the Canadian market with 250 stores. Based in Paris, Bata Europe serves the European market with 500 stores. With supervision located in Singapore, Bata International boasts 3,000 stores to serve markets in Africa, the Pacific, and Asia, Finally, Bata Latin America, operating out of Mexico City, sells footwear throughout Latin America. All told, Bata owns more than 4,700 retail stores and 46 production facilities. Total employment for the company exceeds 50,000. Company Founded in 1894
The Bata family's ties to shoemaking span more than two dozen generations and purportedly date as far back as 1580 to the small Czech village of Zlin. However, it was not until 1894 that the family began to make the transition from cobblers to industrialists. In that year, Tomas G. Bata, Sr., along with his brother Antonin and sister Anna, took 800 florins, some $350, inherited from their mother and launched a shoemaking business. They rented a pair of rooms, acquired two sewing machines on an installment plan, and paid for their leather and other materials with promissory notes. They produced stitched, coarse-woolen footwear. Within a year, the business was successful enough to enable the Batas to employ ten people in their factory, such as it was, as well as another forty who worked out of their own homes. In the same year, 1895, Antonin was drafted into the military and Anna quit the business to get married, forcing Tomas to assume complete control of the venture. He was just 19 years old. In 1900, Bata moved the operation to a new building located close to Zlin's railway station and took the first major step in industrialization, installing steam-driven machines. The company enjoyed success producing light, linen footwear that appealed to a large portion of the population, who could not afford better-made leather shoes. Nevertheless, Bata came close to bankruptcy on more than one occasion and concluded that in order for his business to survive he needed to find more efficient ways to manufacture and distribute shoes. In 1904, he and three employees took a trip to the United States to learn firsthand the ways of mass production. Bata spent six months working as a laborer on a shoe assembly line in New England. On his way back to Zlin, he also took time to visit English and German factories. Upon his return home, Bata began to transform the family shoe business, not only by applying the latest production techniques—which would one day earned him the moniker, "the Henry Ford of the shoe industry"—but also by finding a way to preserve the role of workers, which all too often changed dramatically during the transition from an artisan to an industrial approach to commerce. The Bata shoe business began to experience steady growth, so that by 1912 it was employing 600 full-time workers plus another few hundred who worked out of their homes in neighboring villages. Tomas Bata now began to exhibit another side to his personality, the social idealist. Because there was a shortage of housing in Zlin for his new workers, he constructed new homes, which he rented at cost. He also offered inexpensive meals in factory [pic]cafeterias and free medical care. He even built a new hospital to care for his workers. However, as soon as they began to earn higher incomes, area merchants raised prices. In answer, Tomas Bata opened his own less-expensive company stores to ensure that his employees were able to enjoy the fruits of their success. He also took steps to identify management talent among the ranks of his workers and instituted a training program that was ahead of its time. World War I Boot Contract a Turning Point
Bata received a major boost in 1914, following the...
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