New Delhi, Oct. 13 -- Bata Ltd, India's top footwear retailer, is opening stores more through franchise partners in smaller cities and towns where demand has recovered faster than in the metros.

Since the lockdown, close to 30 new stores were added, and an additional 35-40 are in the pipeline, Sandeep Kataria, CEO, Bata India, said in an interview.

He said expansion of the business during the pandemic underscores the trend seen by many firms wherein demand in smaller cities continues to be ahead of the metros.

Bata has set out a plan to open 500 franchise stores in smaller cities by 2023 as it plans to deepen its pan-India retail network where it currently has 1,550 Bata-owned and franchised stores, apart from selling on e-commerce and...