New K-Swiss Chief Plots Firm’s Future

LOS ANGELES — Now under new management, K-Swiss Inc. is looking to spread a global message.

After the completion of its merger with E.Land World Ltd., K-Swiss last week unveiled the names of its new leadership team. Taking over as chairman is Truman Kim, while Larry Remington, previously president of the Palladium brand, has been appointed president and CEO of K-Swiss. Barney Waters has been promoted to chief marketing officer, while Wim Tuijl was named managing director of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Ed Flora remains as COO.

Former CEO Steven Nichols and former president David Nichols have left the company.

David Nichols told Footwear News last week the firm is in good hands. “For K-Swiss to get to the next level, it needed expertise in retail and apparel, and E.Land has that,” he said, adding that he is now exploring new business opportunities.

For his part, SportsOneSource analyst Matt Powell said K-Swiss made a good pick in Remington. “Larry is a very qualified guy,” he said. “He’s been around the industry for a long time … and he’s been doing a great job at Palladium. It’s a good fit.”

Speaking exclusively to FN, Remington said his priority is to give the company a cohesive message and streamline its worldwide product offering.

“We’re an international company, but we operate in Europe a little differently than in the United States and Asia, and we have to bring this all back together and operate with one voice,” he said. “The same [thing goes] with the footwear. We really have to get back to being a global company in product as well.”

Remington acknowledged the necessity for some regional differences in merchandise, but said those items shouldn’t account for more than 10 percent to 20 percent of sales, especially as there are many upsides to a unified product offering.

Also, Remington noted, the company needs to expand its product breadth and not be reliant on one shoe or style, such as the company’s iconic Classic sneaker. “There is not a single shoe that is going to drive our business,” he said.

But determining exactly how to position the K-Swiss brand — and in which categories — will require more study, Remington said, adding that the company will embrace E.Land’s analytical approach. “They make decisions not from shooting from the hip; they do the research,” he said. “That’s what we’re going to adopt. We’re going to be data driven.”

In the Palladium business, he said, the challenge is to maintain the brand’s high growth rate. And for both Palladium and K-Swiss, an expanded apparel and accessories offering will be in the works. Additional retail stores also are part of the company’s long-term vision, both in the U.S. and abroad.

Shorter term, the new K-Swiss chief said he will look to reduce internal costs and build the company’s management team. “We’re also working to uncover some operating expenses so we can align our expenses with our revenue,” he said.

“Today is day one [of the new K-Swiss],” Remington added. “We’re not starting tomorrow, we’re starting today and we’re excited.”