The Czech footwear company Baťa was established in Zlín in 1894. Thanks to the innovative ideas of the founder, Tomáš Baťa, it didn't take long for the firm to start enjoying success.
Coining the “Shoes for Everyone” slogan, he decided to reduce manufacturing costs, a move helped by the introduction of a sophisticated employee incentive scheme. The innovative approach to the management and organisation of production also helped to lower manufacturing costs. In addition, Baťa set up a marketing and advertising department to boost sales, which ushered in the era of the famous Baťa posters, and modern Czech advertising.
Baťa price tags always ended with the number “9”, so that customers felt that they were paying less. The company founder adopted an exemplary approach to employee welfare, quickly realising that he needed to take care of staff should they become ill or face other unexpected difficulties. Baťa set up a comprehensive social system for his workers, with employee apartments, and nurseries and schools on the factory premises. In its time, the town of Zlín, much of which Baťa built, was dominated by the famous “21” building. Baťa could look out over his empire from his office, which was housed in a lift in the high-rise structure.
His approach to work is often compared to that of Ford in the United States. In terms of his care for his staff, Baťa’s system is likened to that of Michelin in France.
Sales of Baťa shoes increased throughout the world at the beginning of the 20th century. During the First World War, the company supplied the Austro-Hungarian Army with durable military footwear.
Between 1932 and 1948, Jan Antonín Baťa, stepbrother of Tomáš Baťa, headed the Baťa company. With the approach of the Second World War, he decided to transfer the headquarters to Brazil. During that time, shoe manufacture underwent significant decentralisation in various places all over the world. After the Second World War, the Czechoslovak part of the company in Zlín was nationalised and renamed “Svit, národní společnost” (Svit); Canada became the new headquarters of the Baťa concern. At the beginning of the 1950s, after protracted family disputes over ownership, it passed to Tomáš Jan Baťa. After it was established, Svit underwent several transformations, although the company still exists in the Czech Republic today.
Baťa shoes are still sold in the Czech Republic today and enjoy great popularity among Czechs. On Václavské náměstí you’ll find the largest Baťa shop in the Czech Republic, with six floors. It offers a wide selection of shoes and fashion accessories.
The Palladium Shopping Centre on Republic Square, in Prague city centre, is home to another Baťa shop (first floor).