50 pc year-on-year growth, here’s how ‘vocal for local’ footwear company brings the ‘gym in your shoe’

Ashish Jain brought German technology to India and founded Iatric Industries in 2016 to deliver comfortable and medically-fit footwear. In four years, the company has spread its wings to Sri Lanka, Dubai, and Qatar markets and is growing at 50 percent year-on-year.
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‘Vocal for local’ has become a buzzword after Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the nation on May 12, 2020. He said that India needs to be atmanirbhar (self-reliant) to fight the post-COVID-19 crisis.

PM Modi’s speech struck a chord with Ashish Jain, Founder of Iatric Industries who was already planning to shift his footwear manufacturing unit from China to India soon after the coronavirus showed signs of spreading to India. 

Ashish Jain, Founder, Iatric Industries

In an interaction with SMBStory, he says, 

“Iatric Industries is a company with manufacturing, promoting and selling rights of footwear of Von Wellx, a healthy footwear based on internationally patented ‘Five Zones Technology’ invented by Dr Walter Mauch of Germany. We started the company in 2016 in New Delhi after seeing a huge gap and lack of awareness among people about footwear. We were initially manufacturing in China but recently shifted our unit to Agra in a move to strengthen the PM’s initiative for Atmanirbhar Bharat

Ashish says footwear has always been considered as a fashion accessory. People fail to understand that feet form the foundation of the body and getting comfy with mere cushioning of the insole isn’t the solution. 

Thus, by adopting the German technology, Ashish brough Von Wellx to India that now manufactures its products at its manufacturing unit in Agra.

The background

Ashish is an IIM graduate and after completing his studies, he joined his four-decade-old family business of footwear that exports products to around 48 countries. After entering the business, Ashish researched the footwear market in India to find out why people were reluctant to understand why they needed good footwear. Healthy footwear adds to a healthy body, he says.

“Most of the footwear designed today do not take care of the natural functions of the body like static dynamic and reflex of the feet, shock absorption function and technical specs but only focusses on looks and fashion. People do not understand that problems like pain in the knee, back, and posture issues are due to wearing incorrect footwear,” Ashish tells SMBStory

This gap in the design of the footwear made Ashish research further on different technologies that brands abroad were adopting for their footwear ranges. He explored various brands and came across Dr Walter Mauch’s Five Zones Technology under the brand Von Wellx Germany which took care of the problems.

Five Zones Technology is patented and sold in over 80 countries across the globe and has over 100 million customers. Ashish says,

“We tested these shoes on 1,000 people across various states of India and noticed their results over three months. The results of the study were phenomenal and corroborated with the international results of this brand over the last 30 years.”

Women footwear range by Von Wellx Germany

Five Zones Technology is based on the science of reflexology, Ashish says, adding, it stimulates the nerve endings in feet, balances muscle tensions and acts as a spring absorbing shock surface. This brings “the gym in the shoes”, he says. 

Iatric Industries decided to collaborate with Von Wellx to cater to the footwear market of India, Middle East and some Asian countries. After several brainstorming sessions with the company in Germany and Italy, Iatric Industries signed an exclusive manufacturing and marketing contract and set up a manufacturing unit in China. 

“We started by manufacturing in China to meet the supply chain of the Asian and Middle East countries. However, to further leverage the supply chain and boost the manufacturing set up we made a way to India further corroborating the Prime Minister’s speech for Atmanirbhar Bharat,” Ashish tells SMBStory

Iatric Industries has a manufacturing unit in Agra with a manufacturing capacity of 2,000 pairs of footwear per day. 

The company follows strict quality specification guidelines and norms to maintain the quality of the footwear. The raw materials that are available as per the guidelines of the technology are sourced indigenously as well as imported from Germany, Italy, Taiwan, and China. It also has an R&D team of eight designers in Italy and Germany besides the FDDI trained design team in India that works round the year to develop the latest footwear range for every season.

Setting firm feet

Ashish says that the footwear market size is Rs 40,000 crore and for premium footwear segment it is 10 percent of the whole industry, i.e. Rs 4,000 crore. 

“We are one of the only footwear companies in the market which has adopted internationally patented German technology which is based on the science of reflexology. We are not the ‘comfortable-but-ugly’ footwear. We have created trendy designs for all ages and have also launched a special range of diabetic-friendly footwear. We will soon be launching a special range for kids.”

Iatric Industries has a network of over 2,000 point-of-sales in India, Middle East, South East Asia, and Africa, and partnerships with AmazonGlobal, Flipkart, Myntra, Lulu and other online players. The company exports its products to Sri Lanka, Dubai, and Qatar and records a 50 percent year-on-year growth. 

Major challenges

Footwear is one of the most neglected products of daily use and most people don’t understand how wearing wrong footwear can cause multiple feet ailments later in life. They prefer fashion over comfort and well-being. Hence, one of the major challenges that Ashish goes through is to make the customers understand that they need to buy Von Wellx footwear. He says,

“Some people think that it is a medical shoe and they do not need it since they do not have any problem. Our shoes are not medical shoes or just targetted at people with problems. These shoes promote good health for feet, knees, and back so that in future people do not encounter health issues because of wearing wrong footwear.”

Men's footwear range by Von Wellx Germany

Another big challenge Ashish faced in the initial journey of the business was demonetisation. And most recently COVID-19 pandemic has hampered the business too. 

The way forward

Ashish plans to open 25 exclusive stores of Von Wellx in the near future. These stores will act as centres for brand and concept awareness and would complement the company’s distribution of its products through modern and traditional retail. He also aims to strengthen online presence through key partnerships.

Von Wellx will also expand its product line by launching products specifically for kids to prevent chances of them developing foot problems in adult life. It is soon to launch a new range of washable footwear for the Indian market to counter the effects of COVID-19. 

“We have a huge opportunity and responsibility ahead of us to create a new category of healthy footwear in the Indian market. We are confident of achieving this in the next three years,” Ashish says. 

For exports, he says that the company is looking forward to expanding to more markets like Europe and USA, through both online and retail. 

To cater to these markets, Iatric Industries has signed a new contract to increase collaboration with Casa Everz GmbH which has decided to shift its production from China to India for all their global markets.

“This will help Von Wellx in exporting the goods to over 80 countries across the globe. The company is also working very closely with the Uttar Pradesh government to take this forward and start the operations as soon as possible to create employment opportunities in India”, says Ashish.

Edited by Javed Gaihlot

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