Shoemaker sizes up world market with top product

CARL Franz Bally was a pioneer in the shoe field in Switzerland.

The first shoes were produced in the town of Schonenwerd in 1851.

Bally had been on a business trip to Paris and returned with the idea of producing shoes.

He affiliated a shoe factory to the elastics factory he had taken over from his father.

At first, he met with little success. People resisted the idea, being more used to having their shoes made by shoemakers.

But a breakthrough came when Bally got the chance to export to South America.

The opening of the English market and, consequently, his presence in the European colonial empire of that time, formed the basis of his success.

Bally came to stand for tradition and quality.

Last year, the Bally group had gross sales of about 1.4 billion Swiss francs (HK$7.14 billion).

Turnover of clothes and accessories was 245 million Swiss francs.

About 6,300 employees work in 34 countries.

The company is made up of shoe factories in Switzerland, France and Britain and it has a worldwide sales network, with about 500 shops and franchises.

Bally factories produce almost three million pairs of shoes annually.

The extensive product range includes shoes, clothes, handbags, small leather articles, luggage, accessories, and a Bally-own fashion range.

Bally shoes are sold in about 70 countries with more than 4,500 specialist shoe outlets in about 7,000 shops.

Bally has just opened its shoe museum and laboratory in Schonenwerd, Switzerland.