Following his education in the UK and France, Jack Clemons, Group CEO of Bata, started his career with Deloitte, heading up the technology practice for Europe. He was then COO of a European private-equity-backed e-commerce platform where he was able put what he learned and preached at Deloitte into practice. We grew quite fast internationally, prepared for an IPO, made a lot of acquisitions, and had the challenge of integration.
I then joined Bata in 2006 and was appointed Group CEO in 2012. Bata has been around for 120 years and in that time it has had very few CEOs; you can count them on one hand, so its a huge privilege for me to be a member of that group. I also preside over the not-for-profit childrens foundation. So Im the president for that, which organises children-focused activities in over 60 countries around the world, where we run schools, orphanages, and many other activities that focus on children.
Since his appointment to CEO, Jack has seen the European market go through some capricious conditions, creating subdued markets across the region. The biggest challenge has been developing and evolving the European business to be able to deal with the volatile economic environment. We needed clear leadership and a sense of urgency in a very rapidly evolving European retail landscape, which has also been heavily impacted by the increasing role of e-commerce in footwear. Weve been able to develop a new management team with new skills, given them a clear vision of what we wanted to do, and we built that team and the priorities we have in Europe around that new economic environment and the importance of e-commerce in that.
While Europe has presented some challenging conditions, emerging markets, particularly in Asia, offer Bata the chance to expand its reach and capacity. We are very much the number one footwear player in most of the Asian markets, particularly India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, which is, in itself, a region with over 2 billion people and where the middle class is developing very rapidly.