Retailers Laud Ex-Ecco Exec’s Appointment at MBT

NEW YORK — The installation of Jan Stig Andersen as MBT’s new CEO was well received by retailers last week, who believe the executive can enhance the brand’s strength in the wellness market.

Andersen, a former CEO of Ecco North America, is set to join the Swiss footwear company next month, taking over for the departing Ken Pucker, who has been MBT’s interim global CEO since last November. Andersen most recently served as the CEO of the European textile fashion group BTX Group A/S. He is the second major hire — and second ex-Ecco exec — to join MBT in recent months. The company brought on Paul Grimble as its North American managing director in July.

Danny Wasserman, owner of Tip Top Shoes in New York, said of Andersen, “I can’t see anyone better working at MBT. He understands the retailer, the footwear business and the market.” John Weingarten, co-owner of The Shoe Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., said the addition of Andersen will be a positive for MBT, and he hopes the new management continues to up its in-store interaction with the consumer, especially as the wellness market becomes flooded with product.

“They’ll need to put themselves in front of the consumer more to continue to secure their place in this market,” Weingarten said. “They’re not alone in the marketplace anymore. They are the premier wellness shoe, and right now, we pledge our allegiance to them, but some of these other [wellness] shoes are in stores around us and might have some impact on their sales.”

Andersen, reached in Denmark, told Footwear News that his first priority will be to focus on key retailers and shore up top distribution, in both the independent and department store sectors.

“The most important thing is the quality before the quantity,” he said, adding that he plans to work on getting more product trainers and merchandisers into MBT’s retail accounts. “The way to build a brand is through the product, the distribution and the positioning. And in my world, the shoe is never sold before the consumer is happy.”

Wasserman said he believes MBT has barely scratched the surface of its potential growth and could eventually expand into more footwear categories and even apparel. But, said Andersen, “We have more potential [to explore] with where we are now. We would like to do that better before we start extending the line.”

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