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By Lineo Lesemane

Digital Lifestyle Journalist

WATCH: ‘From small room in Alex to 11000 sqm facility’ – sneaker brand’s remarkable Journey

Theo Baloyi says he has even bigger plans as he opens a new sneaker warehouse in Centurion

Following the launch of two sneaker ranges this year, Bathu sneaker brand founder and CEO, Theo Baloyi, has opened a new warehouse in Centurion.

The award-winning businessman opened his very first warehouse back in 2019.

Since opening the first store in Newtown, Johannesburg, a few months earlier in 2018, the brand has rapidly expanded its footprint, boasting an impressive total of 32 stores nationwide.

Baloyi said the new warehouse project started in 2022 and took about sixteen months to complete.

During the grand unveiling of the expansive new 11 000 square meter warehouse on Friday, 13 April, guests were treated to an exclusive tour, guiding us seamlessly from the reception area to the inner sanctum of the CEO’s office.

Along the way, we got to learn about Bathu’s evolution from the very first sneaker created to the latest ranges that include Khalanga, Ndofaya, and 10/45.

ALSO READ: WATCH: Bathu launches a new sneaker range in honour of Kwaito legends

‘From small room in Alex to 11000 square meter facility’

Speaking at the event, Baloyi said this milestone does not only mean growth for the business but also an opportunity to employ more people, contribute to issues of national importance, and upskill the youth of South Africa.

“This journey started in a small room in Alex to an 11 000 square meter facility. And that could not have been possible without our values over here: If it were not for innovation, agility, and being resilient on the journey, this wouldn’t have been possible,” he said.

Baloyi said the journey to the top was not easy as he faced multiple rejections in the beginning.

“We were rejected about thirteen times, but rejection for me is nothing but a different lens…I was never an emotional person about my dreams, and I was never a guy who wanted to prove a point. So, a no or rejection did nothing to me.

“We live in a world where there’s so much noise and influence. So oftentimes when you’re not tuned inside of you and listening to your inner voice, you ought to be emotional about things because you’re easily influenced,” he added.

Speaking about the latest venture Bathu Group, Baloyi said it was established in 2023 and operates across diverse sectors including retail, financial services, and licensing.

He said it is 70% retail, 20% finance, and 10% license. He said their aim is to have Bathu Group subsidiaries reach the same heights and scalability that Bathu Sneakers has reached.

“Watch the space, we have got amazing brands that are coming into the group, and we will talk about that in the future,” he added.

ALSO READ: Theo Baloyi celebrates his identity with launch of new Bathu sneaker range

Bathu for Bathu care projects

Beyond commercial ventures, Baloyi also spoke about Bathu’s commitment to corporate social responsibility through initiatives like Bathu for Bathu care projects.

The project focuses on school kids in different regions and supplies Bathu-branded school shoes. While the shoes have been put on sale for the first time ever this year, the proceeds from the sale will be reinvested to amplify the impact of this noble cause.

Speaking about witnessing poverty firsthand in his community, Baloyi said: “It’s different when you are in a fancy corporate office, and you are flying Emirates, travel abroad to different countries, and you feel like your life is changing, but oftentimes when I drove into Alex, I was faced with reality.

“And the reality at the time was that my people were unemployed, and when you sit and listen to their stories, it was not by choice or because they were lazy but because some of them did not get the opportunities that some of us got.”

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