Bata, whose world headquarters moved from Canada to Switzerland several years ago, has decided to close down the last 27 remaining shoe shops that it’s still operating in Canada, which are mostly small and unable to compete with the large chains and the mass merchants in the country.

The company plans to come back to the market soon with the larger Bata Superstore format developed in Europe and with an e-commerce facility, but the timing is not yet clear. Bata is in fact working on a project to sell shoes over the internet in Canada and in some other countries through its global website, www.bata.com, which was re-launched with a new look yesterday.

Some 20 years ago, Bata was operating up to 250 stores across Canada under its own banner. It will continue to invest there on its sports footwear concept, Athlete’s World, which is quite developed in Canada with more than 160 units.

Meanwhile, Bata is reopening its historical 6-storey “World Flagship Store” on Wenceslas Square in Prague after a major renovation, and investing heavily in two big potential markets – Russia and China. In Russia, where it has four stores in the Moscow area, Bata has taken over its former distribution partner and is gearing up now for a major phase of expansion. In China, it has already opened 20 stores through a joint venture with a local manufacturing partner, which produces models from the Bata Premium collection designed in Italy, and more stores are in the pipeline for later this year.