It is unfortunate, but now taken for granted, that if we buy manufactured goods they naturally come from China. The primary reason is that they are cheaper, but not necessarily better quality, than can be produced locally. So it is refreshing to see a local company producing high quality consumer goods, reversing the trend and shipping them to China and India, amongst a list of other international destinations.
From humble beginnings
Footcare International is a family owned business with offices, manufacturing and warehousing in Bayswater, Victoria. CEO and Managing Director Barry Kearney has run Footcare International since 1978 but the company has been producing shoe insoles, originally from premises in Smith Street Collingwood, since 1914. "We have a simple strategy; to provide the highest quality foot comfort and shoe care products at the best prices", says Barry.
Things have changed significantly since he took over. "Starting with just two products in 1978 we have carefully selected and expanded our range to over 60 products." These include lambs wool, sheepskin, odour stop, lavender, gel, orthotic, sport, diabetics, memory and work insoles and an extensive range of the foot comfort products especially designed for women's fashion.
Export potential and growth
Footcare International manufactures insoles in Bayswater. They also import a wide range of foot comfort products made in China. Barry, who also speaks Mandarin says, "Our low production costs mean that despite the recent rise in the Australian dollar, we are still competitive in international markets." His team regularly visits China to service export customers and meet suppliers. Footcare International is in the process of setting up its own Chinese company to facilitate sales from Australia to China and to other expanding export markets.
Already exporting to over twenty countries including Japan, USA, Turkey, Middle East, Ireland, USA, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore and Philippines, many new opportunities are emerging in Europe and the USA.
Taking on the big guys
Footcare International has also had significant impact on the local market. With a combination of high quality products at excellent value for money, their products are available in attractive display stands in over 3000 of Australia's leading retail outlets including Woolworths, Coles, BigW, KMart, Payless Shoes, Priceline, independent supermarkets, footwear retailers and repairers and pharmacies. "Our main opposition is from large multinational companies worth billions of dollars, however our market segment is only a tiny part of their overall businesses. We are a family business and believe our focus gives us our advantage. In Australia, our growth opportunities are in footwear stores, supermarkets and pharmacies, where our range and competitive prices give us a strong edge over expensive, imported alternatives."
Footcare International and Saward Dawson
Saward Dawson originally advised Footcare International on how to structure their expanding China operations. Working closely with the client management team, we have provided advice on the cash flow implications of their rapid sales growth and future finance requirements. At a time in which the business growth has accelerated significantly, we have also provided taxation consulting and compliance services.
The future is bright
With growth anticipated to continue accelerating, Barry is enthusiastic and confident about the future. They recently shipped their first order of Australian-made insoles to a large, international pharmacy distributor in India. There is lots of activity and new prospects keep emerging.
The expansion of Footcare International is clearly strategic and well planned. Their quality and branding is world class and it is being recognised as such here and around the world. As an example, having introduced shoelaces into its Australian range just four years ago, they are already Australia's number one shoelace seller. Footcare International is a positive message of encouragement to other Australian companies looking to make an impact on the world stage. Their website at www.footcareinternational.com shows just how far their reach extends.