Our Heritage

Founded by the Bata family of shoemakers in Zlin, Czechoslovakia in 1894, the Bata Shoe Company global footwear and accessories manufacturer and retailer is still family-owned to this day.

Over the 120 years, Bata has sold more than 14 billion pairs of shoes. We now have a retail presence in over 90 countries, employing 30,000+ people in at least 5,700 retail stores and 24 production facilities and offices.

Our sustainability and corporate responsibility milestones sit alongside key business developments throughout our history

Bata Shoe Company is founded by Tomásˇ, Antonin and Anna Bata in Zlin, Czechoslovakia.


Pre-electricity, Bata uses advanced steam-powered equipment. Bata sets itself apart from other companies, with fixed working hours and weekly wages.


Tomáš creates Bata’s first mass-market product – an unpretentious canvas and leather shoe.


Bata employs 600 full-time workers and several hundred home workers in local villages. Workers also have the option of new affordable residential housing.


Thomas Bata Jr is born (September 14, 1914).

Tomáš Bata purchases two agricultural farms to supply workers with affordable food. He also subsidises dining rooms and food stores for local citizens. (Bata is said to have saved thousands of Zlin inhabitants from hunger.)


Tomáš saves Bata and jobs by slashing prices and reducing wages. Instead, employees receive discounted food, clothing and other necessities along with a profit-share scheme turning them into associates with an interest in Bata’s success.


Zlin now hosts tanneries, a packaging factory and other industries needed for Bata’s self-sufficiency. This includes food and energy.

Workers have housing, shops, schools, a hospital and a theatre.

Bata pioneers a new pricing structure ending in 9 instead of 0 – sales sky-rocket.

1929 & 1932

Almost 700 new Bata stores open in 37 countries, particularly in Asia and Africa.

Tomás Bata dies in a plane crash.

Bata establishes a hospital, a ‘School of Work’ and introduces a five-day week.

1930 onward

Bata makes it policy to provide housing, education and welfare support to factory employees and their families. 11 villages are created in countries as diverse as the Netherlands and Pakistan.


Prior to German occupation, Bata posts
Jewish employees around the world.


After World War II, the communist regime in Eastern Europe strips Bata’s assets. Bata gradually rebuilds itself from its London base, expanding with autonomous
units in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America.


Bata headquarters move to Toronto.


Following global economic changes, Bata closes some manufacturing facilities in developed countries and focuses
on expanding its retail business.


The Thomas Bata Foundation is established in Zlin –
the company’s birthplace. Its mission is to support social and cultural development, education of youth and adults, and entrepreneurial activities.


The Tomas Bata University is founded in Zlin in recognition of Bata’s outstanding role in transforming lives and the economy.


Leadership of the Company is transferred to Thomas G Bata, grandson of the founder. The company moves its headquarters from Canada to Lausanne, Switzerland.

Thomas John Bata dies in Toronto aged 93.


Launch of the Bata Children’s Program – an employee
volunteer-driven initiative focused on helping
disadvantaged children.
The first yearly Thomas J. Bata Lecture on Responsible
Capitalism is held.


Bata conducts second party environmental audits of all
their tanneries.


Social and environmental second party audits of 25 Bata factories are conducted.

Lifecycle analyses of four types of shoes are also completed.


Bata Supplier Code of Conduct is launched.
A Supplier Summit is hosted for suppliers in Europe,
India and China.

Bata Europe introduces a Restricted Substances List.

Bata India receives the Kaizen Manufacturing Award for Excellence.

Bata Australia receives an award for waste management excellence.

All manufacturing facilities move to production with 100%
water-based adhesive.

Bata’s corporate website www.bata.com becomes climate neutral.