President, CEO; Aerosoles
2008 Rank: 68
If the economy is in a slump, don’t tell Schneider, 58. Comp-store sales for his chain were up 5.2 percent over 2008, and three more doors bowed this year, bringing Aerosoles’ count to 87 full-price stores and 19 outlets. The real action, however, is coming from the company’s e-commerce division, which reported a record-breaking year on the consumer and wholesale sides. Fueling consumer demand was an emphasis on sport-casuals and an expanded assortment of wide widths. Schneider is also looking overseas — Aerosoles entered the Philippines — taking over international distribution from its former licensee. By most accounts, the move translates into a better alignment of product and messaging. And kids’ is being added to the mix for spring ’10.
Power Players: Luca Bizzo, SVP, product development; Karen Sadick, EVP, merchandising; Michele Rast, VP, marketing
Massimo Ferragamo, Vincent Ottomanelli
Chairman; President; Ferragamo USA
2008 Rank: 64
What happens when nostalgia meets modernity? The answer is in the reissued footwear collections coming from Ferragamo, 43, and Ottomanelli, 52. Debuting in chez Maria Luisa in Paris during fashion week last month, the 2009 collection had a film star theme and is based on a selection of styles once worn by Anna Magnina, Marilyn Monroe and Sofia Loren. To keep the company moving forward, menswear designer Massimiliano Giometti will add the women’s collection to his design duties for fall ’10, as the recent round of ready-to-wear shows in Milan was the last from designer Cristina Ortiz. On the business front, the brand has 550 stores worldwide and plans two to three new launches in 2010, including one in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. And last month, the company also unveiled an online store, which Ferragamo and Ottomanelli hope will become a top retail outlet for the label by 2010.
R. Stephen Rubin, Andy Rubin
Chairman; CEO; Pentland Group Plc
2008 Rank: 69
Even though the Olympics were last year, swimming sensation Michael Phelps was still widely talked about — for better and for worse —through 2009, helping to keep Speedo, a brand under the Pentland umbrella, in the spotlight. A watery environment is providing yet another opportunity for the company. Stephen, 71, and Andy, 45, are once again seeing Hunter rain boots continue to build momentum even in a tough U.S. economy. And with a foothold in the apparel and footwear markets, the company launched its Berghaus line of rugged-inspired outerwear in the U.S. through outdoor specialty stores. Back home in the U.K., JD Sports Fashion, a retail chain of which Pentland is controlling stockholder, has expanded to about 500 units there and acquired French chain Chausport.
Power Player: Sonny Shar, president, Pentland USA
Chairman, CEO; Dick’s Sporting Goods
2008 Rank: 67
Opportunity is key in times like these, so believes Stack, 55. While many retailers have been hit hard this past year, Dick’s has expanded — and then some. It had planned to open 20 stores, but instead bowed 24, bringing the chain’s count to 409 locations. The second quarter brought about a 3.7 percent increase in net sales to $1.13 billion, due to the opening of new stores and the company’s addition of e-commerce sales. As the largest golf retailer in the U.S., Dick’s announced the renewal of its sponsorship of the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open through 2012. The company’s Galaxy Golf chain has plans of expanding to five more stores, and Stack is implementing a consolidation of the two companies’ corporate offices into one facility for the upcoming year.
Power Players: Joseph Schmidt, president, COO; Tim Kullman, CFO
Chairman, CEO; Belk Inc.
2008 Rank: 66
Though he’s known for keeping something of a low profile, Belk, 54, marginally grew his store base last year, adding three new stores and expanding and renovating three more. The privately held department store chain now has a portfolio of 307 stores across 16 Southern states. While net sales were hit in the most recent quarter, down 8 percent, to $760.3 million, Belk was able to post a 15 percent rise in net earnings, to $9.4 million, thanks to improved gross margins and cost controls.
Power Players: John Belk, president, COO; David Neri, GMM, shoes; Kathy Bufano, president, merchandising, marketing
Creative Director; Bally
Designer; Brian Atwood
2008 Rank: 65
Atwood, 42, continues to successfully juggle his eponymous collection with his commitments at Bally. Ever since the April departure of CEO Marco Franchini, the designer has been the lone face of the brand. In October, he quashed speculation that he too was about to bolt, issuing a statement that he was working on fall ’10 and shooting the new ad campaign. He also said he’d make personal appearances at new Bally stores, including the gala opening of a 6,000-sq.-ft. store in Singapore in November, which will bring the total number of Bally points of sale to 696. Shortly after Atwood’s statement, Paulette Garafalo was named CEO of Bally Americas. She reports to Bally’s interim CEO, Peter Harf, who is the CEO of parent company Joh. A. Benckiser SE. Meanwhile, Atwood is still growing in stature as a celebrity footwear designer in his own right. March saw the launch of the limited-edition photography book “Role Play Rene,” featuring actress Rene Russo in Atwood’s namesake footwear, shot fetish-style by Tony Duran.
Founder, CEO; Under Armour Inc.
2008 Rank: 75
Under Armour rarely does anything small. No surprise, then, that Plank, 37, started the year by making some serious noise, plunging into the super-competitive, $5 billion running category. To unveil Under Armour’s first running shoe, Plank held a press event with pro athletes — New York Giants running back Brandon Jacobs and triathlon champion Chris McCormack, among others — and gave an early glimpse of the product’s ad campaign. So far, though, the shoe business hasn’t done as well as Plank had hoped, registering just $33 million in the third quarter and suffering major markdowns in the previous quarter. To improve the picture, the company made a management switch this summer, replacing footwear chief Raphael Peck with Gene McCarthy, formerly co-president of Timberland brand and an executive at Nike. Now, Under Armour aims to refashion its sneakers, revamp sourcing and distribution and zero in on women’s and kids’ shoes. And then there’s the much-anticipated basketball shoe, which should hit retailers next year.
Power Players: David McCreight, president; McCarthy, SVP, footwear
President; Clarks Cos.
2008 Rank: 71
Clarks celebrated a fashion milestone in 2009, as its iconic Desert boot turned 60. To commemorate the event, unique limited-edition styles highlighting each decade were made available to fans. But while Clarks embraced its past, it also welcomed the future with the launch of two collections. Jumping on the wellness trend, the company bowed Wave, a series of rocker-bottom styles for men and women. It also debuted Everyday, a line of office-appropriate comfort looks. Under Infantino, 60, Clarks has capitalized on past successes by building upon its Unstructured collection, launched in 2007. Taking a stronger retail position, the company added nine stores this year to its U.S. roster.
Chairman, CEO; K-Swiss Inc.
2008 Rank: 63
K-Swiss is practicing the art of reinvention — again and again. After several dismal quarters following the collapse of the classic white sneaker craze, the company has struggled to find its footing. But this past year saw some investments in new product categories that could be the future of the brand. Performance running is key to the new K-Swiss, and the company has solidified its partnership with the Ford Ironman World Championship with triathlon-specific shoes and co-branded Ironman products. Nichols, 67, also relaunched the French canvas boot brand Palladium, after purchasing it a year ago. In another bold stroke, the executive sold off Royal Elastics to focus more heavily on core business. But times are still tough. During the second quarter, K-Swiss reported a loss of $11.5 million, while sales dropped 35 percent to $54 million, versus $82.9 million a year ago.
Power Player: David Nichols, EVP
CEO; John Varvatos Enterprises
2008 Rank: 74
An edgier vibe continues to treat Varvatos, 54, quite well. Despite the recession, the designer launched his Star USA footwear line and debuted e-commerce for all his collections, including Converse. Varvatos has said footwear is one of the fastest-growing categories for the business, and he expects the lower-priced Star USA footwear to outpace his Collection footwear (which now accounts for more than 20 percent of business) within the next two years. The John Varvatos brand, part of VF Corp., opened a new store in Las Vegas’ Hard Rock Hotel (as well as new shop-in-shops in Bloomingdale’s in New York and Holt Renfrew in Montreal). The designer and music lover also hosted a battle of the bands in September, when The Reckless Sons became the face of the first Star USA ad campaign.
President, CEO; Shoe Show Inc.
2008 Rank: 72
Shoe Show is proving to be a retail tour de force. With 1,125 stores — under the Shoe Show, Burlington Shoes and Shoe Dept. banners — Tucker, 72, plans to continue expanding at the rate of one store per week in 2010. An ambitious goal, indeed, but it’s fitting for a company that turns 50 next August. While Shoe Show remains very guarded about its figures, it’s a safe bet that Tucker’s simple focus on service and value are leading to steady growth. Maybe remaining quiet is the key. The company is still the largest privately held shoe chain in the U.S.
Power Player: Lisa Tucker, VP, merchandising
Owner; Hanig’s Footwear
Business hasn’t been easy for veteran retailer and Chicago favorite Hanig, 61, but his constantly remerchandised assortment of top brands, including MBT, Thierry Rabotin, Ecco and La Canadienne, have helped sales stay flat at his six stores, which isn’t too bad in a year like this. The Hanig’s Footwear store in the John Hancock building, which opened last year after moving from its original location on Michigan Avenue, has been particularly successful, increasing in sales month after month. In fact, last month the store had its biggest sales day ever, proving that Hanig shoppers are ready and willing to pay full price for on-trend product. Hoping to strike gold again with another premier location, Hanig is opening a 3,800-sq.-ft. Hanig’s Footwear store next spring in Chicago’s popular retail area North Clyburne.
Power Player: Daniel Hanig, buyer
CEO; Dynasty Footwear
2008 Rank: 78
Silvera, 66, is building his own dynasty. Despite feeling some fallout from department-store consolidations and bankruptcies, the footwear company and its private-label enterprise has remained largely in good stead. In fact, it should post a 20 percent increase in sales this year. One reason: Seychelles and BC Footwear are on the rise, thanks, in part, to the return of Gabriel Morales as head of product after a two-year absence. This spring, Seychelles debuted a new logo, while BC launched the new “Because” campaign and collection for fall. The company also has seen success with its ongoing partnership with Nordstrom and with the Self Esteem and Seven7 licenses. Playing off the idea that Americans crave comfort, the brand launched ExOfficio Footwear this spring, appealing to outdoor and comfort retailers.
Power Players: Sari Ratsula, president, Seychelles, BC Footwear; Morales, head of product, Seychelles, BC Footwear; Steve Nessim, VP, children’s, Dynasty; Danny Silvera, director, marketing, PR
Chairman; Shoe Carnival
Owner; Liz Claiborne Footwear
2008 Rank: 79
With the fumbles come the recoveries. As the owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Weaver, 74, has seen his football team off to a mediocre start, but his shoe companies, on the other hand, have posted far better scores. Shoe Carnival had second-quarter profits that bested expectations, and analysts have since turned bullish on its stock. Weaver’s playbook? He’s encouraged management to take strong cost-cutting measures and maintain lower inventory levels. Additionally, the company benefited from a healthy back-to-school business, as shoppers sought out lower-priced product. Sales in the first half of the year totaled $320.1 million, nearly matching the same period in 2008. Meanwhile, Liz Claiborne Footwear stands to benefit from a 10-year licensing deal JCPenney signed with Liz Claiborne Inc., which begins next fall.
Power Players: Mark Lemond, CEO, president, Shoe Carnival; Cliff Sifford, EVP, GMM, Shoe Carnival
Chief Industry Analyst; The NPD Group
As the fashion industry struggles to stay afloat these days, retail guru Cohen, 53, has become a hot property on the lecture circuit. The popularity of his live presentations of retail tips geared toward the shoe industry has prompted the publication of his latest book, “Buy Me! New Ways to Get Customers to Choose Your Product and Ignore the Rest,” set to hit stores in January. Cohen, who graced FN’s list at No. 93 in 2007, also found time to sign on for two regular monthly appearances on Bloomberg TV and Fox Business News, pegged to the release of monthly retail data. In a move to educate future business leaders, he’s added a lecture series at North Carolina State and the Fashion Institute of Technology, and will give a sourcing presentation at the upcoming Magic trade show.
Founder, Chairman; Geox
2008 Rank: 80
Polegato, 57, continues to pump a ton of money into the North American business — and it appears to be paying off. Sales in the region for the first half of 2009 jumped 20 percent, with global sales up 4 percent. Not bad given the worldwide economic mess. Fueling these numbers was the development of styles aimed exclusively at the North American market, an area Polegato’s paying special attention to by naming Gary Champion COO of the newly united Canadian and U.S. businesses. Geox has also put a new fashion spin on its global offering, a move that’s being communicated in its first lifestyle campaign featured in its 1,000 stores worldwide.
Power Players: Diego Bolzonello, CEO; Massimo Stefanello, corporate managing director
CEO; Dillard’s Inc.
2008 Rank: 73
Even after closing 21 stores in 2008, Dillard’s still seems to be caught between a rock and a hard place. Early this year, the department store announced it would close five additional underperforming doors in 2009. The first store to get the boot was in Tullahoma, Tenn. Though Dillard, 64, enforced cost-saving efforts, the 314-store chain lost $26.7 million during its second quarter, on sales of $1.43 billion, an 11.2 percent decline compared to a year ago. Interestingly enough, the company’s sales in the home, furniture and men’s segments were below par; however, shoe numbers were stronger than the norm.
Power Players: Alex Dillard, president; Mike Dillard, EVP; Joe Brennan, VP, footwear
CEO; Nina Footwear
2008 Rank: 82
The Internet has proven to be a gold mine for Silverstein, 50. This year, sales on Ninashoes.com and the brand’s e-commerce partners grew four-fold. The robust sales were fueled by new online initiatives that included Nina’s Design Your Own shoe program, a wholesale Web portal allowing small specialty stores to purchase product more easily, and the launch of Nina handbags online. While dress footwear remained the product focus, new categories such as jellies are set to bow. Nina Kids, another bright spot, showed a 28 percent increase in sales over last year.
Power Players: Mike Shirey, president, Nina Group; Robin Rothenberg, president, Salon Group; Mike Bornstein, president, private label
CEO; Hennes & Mauritz AB
For its first collaboration with an accessories brand, H&M aimed high. The Swedish fast-fashion company chose Jimmy Choo to create a line of men’s and women’s shoes and bags for 200 of its stores across the globe. (The collection debuts Nov. 14.) The international chain also bowed new stores in Beijing, Seoul and Moscow — all part of a plan to open 240 stores during 2009. Following the appointment of Persson, 34, in July, the company announced it would start online sales in the U.K. next fall. With e-commerce already available in Sweden, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Germany and Austria, could the U.S. be far off?
Power Player: Margareta van den Bosch, creative adviser
President, CEO; Lord & Taylor
2008 Rank: 77
After struggling through last year’s holiday season, Lord & Taylor received a cash injection of $60 million from NRDC Equity Partners, which owns the chain of upscale department stores. Since taking over a year ago, Hoffman, 41, has helped develop advertisements specifically for the times. The tagline “Shop Smart at Lord & Taylor” encouraged consumers to do just that, and the stores have seen an increase in sales. The company continues to expand its footwear department, which represents more than 10 percent of overall business. For 2010, Hoffman and his team will shift the focus to building on-trend merchandising, amid standout shoe brands such as Michael by Michael Kors, AK Anne Klein and Coach.
Power Player: Liz Rodbell, GMM, EVP, merchandising