Tomas Bata (April 3, 1876 - July 12, 1932) was the founder of Bata Shoe Organization, one of the world's biggest multinational retailer, manufacturer and distributor of footwear and accessories.
Tomas Bata established the organization in Zlín (Czech Republic) on August 24, 1894, with his brother and sister as partners in the firm. Though the orgnaization was newly established, the family had a long history of shoemaking, spanning eight generations and over three hundred years. This heritage helped boost the popularity of his new firm very quickly. With the introduction of factory-style production and long distance retailing, Tomas modernized the shoe-making industry and the company surged ahead in production and profits right from its nascent years.
Eventually, Tomas obtained sole control over the company. World War 1 created a booming demand for military shoes, and the company quickly became one of the prime brands. Tomas also exhibited his business acumen, with his initiatives towards producing low-cost shoes for the general public, whose purchasing power had been significantly reduced in the aftermath of the war. He also set up factories and companies in other countries like Poland, Yugoslavia, Holland, Denmark, the United Kingdom and the USA. These factories were made self-sufficient and autonomous in their design, production and distribution strategies, in a move to focus them towards catering to the local population. By the early 1930s, the Bata enterprise and Czechoslovakia were the world's leading footwear exporters.
Tomas is also widely regarded as a businessman with an acute sense of social consciousness. He is quoted by many as one of the first pioneers of employee welfare and social advancement programs. He is credited with efforts to modernize his hometown providing the people with employment, and housing facilities, making him a very popular citizen in the town. He also became the mayor of Zlín.
Tomas Bata died in a plane crash in 1932. After his demise, his family continued to be at the helm of affairs. Today the company operates in 68 countries.