“Start walking,” says V Noushad, founder and managing director of Coimbatore-based Walkaroo International. The footwear brand joins hands with Coimbatore Cancer Foundation to host the 11th edition of the Coimbatore Marathon. “It is the first step towards a healthy lifestyle. It helps overcome health challenges that are likely to arise from a sedentary lifestyle,” he says adding that their latest nation-wide campaign WalkIndiaWalk amplified the importance and role of daily walking for mental, physical, and emotional well-being.
“Our brand name implies walk karo (start walking) and our purpose is to inspire walking,” he explains while overseeing work amidst a packed schedule at his office in Malumichampatti near Coimbatore. Noushad launched Walkaroo in 2012 from Coimbatore after being part of his father VKC Mammed Koya’s VKC Footwear brand in Kozhikode, Kerala for over a decade. “In the footwear segment, 90% of customers buy below ₹ 1000, and we tapped into this.” The company owns 14 manufacturing units with the unit at Malumichampatti focussed on sustainability without adding waste to the landfill.
The company’s own 14 manufacturing units across Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Gujarat, and a few more places together have a capacity of producing over five lakh pairs of shoes per day. The manufacturing unit at Malumichampatti is sustainable and produces 50,000 pairs of slippers and sandals in a day without adding waste to the landfill.
“We have 2000 trees on our campus and also maintain a two-acre Miyawaki forest besides developing and nurturing over two-acre greenery at SIDCO industrial unit’s vacant land,” explains Noushad, taking us around the campus. “To make our production sustainable, we tied up with cement industries for 100% recycling of Polyurathane (PU) wastes and Ethylene Vinyl Acetate (EVA) wastes. We implemented rain water harvesting at the campus and a recharged ground water table has given a boost to farming in the neighbourhood.”
Elaborating on their products, he talks about Walkaroo Sportz, a new range of athleisure shoes, conceived on ‘Dil mein hai sports’ campaign, where everyday movement is sports. “We use vegan leather as it is sustainable, and scalable. In India, 90% of footwear is non-leather, while globally it is 85%.”
Noushad remembers that he was in Class IX when his father had a business of supplying raw material for matchsticks, which ran into financial trouble. Later, in 1984, his father started manufacturing rubber slippers under the brand name of VKC. “Since the Hawaii slippers market was flourishing and 90% of rubber in India is produced in Kerala, my father saw a great business opportunity. He gave me a handbook on rubber technology and asked me to explain it. To learn more, I joined Chemical Engineering and completed my MTech in Polymer Technology.”
For his dissertation on lightweight Hawai slippers, he visited rubber plants across the country. But during his research he realised that there was not much scope for lightweight slippers, as PVC slippers were already becoming popular. “I replaced rubber with virgin quality polyvinyl (PV) and had a first mover advantage in South India.“ Later, he added EVA (Ethylene Vinyl Acetate) footwear, which replaced rubber soles with a softer, lighter, and flexible material. Though Walkaroo started its journey from South India, it has now expanded to other parts of the country and the world. They have a manufacturing unit in Bangladesh and will set up one soon in Tanzania. “Fashionable, quality products available at affordable prices is the customers’ requirement today. We collaborate with design development labs in the UK and China.”
The Coimbatore Marathon is expected to attract more than 18,000 participants from across the country. Funds raised have contributed to the activities of CCF impacting the lives of survivors and their families. The event is on December 17, and the last date to register is November 15. Visit coimbatoremarathon.com. For details, write to email@example.com