Footwear Firms Bullish on 2013 at ICR

Footwear Firms Bullish on 2013 at
Blake Krueger

Footwear firms presenting their business plans at the ICR XChange conference in Miami on Wednesday were upbeat about 2013.

Wolverine World Wide Inc. reiterated that the integration of Collective Brand Group’s Performance & Lifestyle unit continues to progress quicker than planned, and the firm’s chairman, president and CEO, Blake Krueger, expressed optimism for international growth.

Also going faster than expected is Genesco Inc.’s store expansion plans for its U.K. retail arm, Schuh, said company Chairman, President and CEO Bob Dennis.

And while a copy of Steven Madden Ltd.’s presentation was unavailable at press time, analysts were upbeat on its momentum at the start of the year, having emerged from the fourth quarter with fewer holiday markdowns than its peers.

Kate McShane, analyst at Citi Investment Research, wrote in a note, “We believe strong sell-throughs at wholesale this winter are driving continued momentum in spring orders. Lace-up military boots continue to be Madden’s top seller, transitioning into spring.”

Sterne Agee analyst Sam Poser added that the firm had opportunities to increase its average prices, to be “driven by the sale of booties, wedge sneakers and Betsey Johnson dresses, versus the sale of lower-priced sandals in 2012.”

At Genesco, Dennis attributed the success of Schuh to the fact that the teen space is dominated by American brands. “They’re essentially playing catch-up to the assortment in many ways to what Journeys has already had for over a year, [which is] what has been driving comps,” he said.

Dennis further added, “We will be opening 16 stores in total for this year just completing, and that’s more than we had planned.”

Meanwhile, Krueger said the recent decision to shift his organization’s structure following the PLG acquisition was a strategic one. (As reported, the brands are now housed under three separate groups rather than one umbrella.)

“We were trying to view these brands by target consumers, by distribution channels, by global potential,” he said. “[Looking] at the PLG brands that we acquired, about 10 percent of their sales, or about 15 percent of their pairs, are sold outside the U.S. Before the acquisition, two-thirds of our pairs were sold outside the U.S., [so there is] big upside opportunity for us to take the four brands that we acquired international, plug and play them into our well-established relationships and partnerships on an international basis.”