Web, Launches the Focus for Cmerit

NEW YORK — CMerit USA Inc. is adding to its list of merits.

The Chino, Calif.-based company will launch e-commerce by the end of the first quarter of 2013, as well as introduce accessories, expand the children’s offering and grow its presence in the outdoor space.

“We’re bringing a lot to the table and there are new areas of focus,” said CMerit President Doug Vesling, who took the helm in 2011 after starting as a consultant in 2008. “We’re [on track] to finish [2012] with a 30 percent sales increase over [the previous year].”

The newest brand, Nord Trail, debuted at Outdoor Retailer in August with women’s and men’s styles set to retail between $60 and $90. The line is geared primarily to independents and will help build the company’s outdoor and athletic business. (CMerit launched athletic line Evos in 2010.)

“We’re more into sporting goods and the family channel. We laid out a new distribution strategy that makes sense for the brand,” Vesling said of Nord Trail.

The label will add a children’s line later this year, part of a major initiative to expand its kids’ business.

Retail accounts for children’s shoes have tripled under the Evos and Gotta Flurt labels, which launched in 2004 and are sold at DSW, Off Broadway and Houston-based Stage Stores.

“Gotta Flurt has been outperforming expectations with extremely strong selling during our back-to-school peak,” said Amy Polidori, children’s buyer at Stage Stores. “It is a fun brand to have on the floor. CMerit has been able to customize product for my stores working off trends that our customers respond to. This has been key for our small-town business model.”

In addition to bolstering relationships with key retailers, CMerit also is developing its online operations.

In the first quarter, it expects to bow a new e-commerce site.”The future consumer is far more interactive and this will give us the entree to start discussing international business,” said Vesling.

Besides footwear, the site will stock new spring launches including handbags, sunglasses, socks and belts.

“The accessories piece was a natural fit because there are a lot of footwear accounts that carry accessories,” said Vesling. “We wanted to continue to build brand awareness.”

To handle the expansion, the firm is bringing in six sales reps to its team across the U.S.

And as the company grows, it will put more focus on marketing opportunities such as its Kids With a Cause program, which invites participants to submit a charity of their choice via social media. A winner is picked — and paired with a specific style — and proceeds from the sale of the shoe are donated to the cause of choice.

Overall, the firm is optimistic about its initiatives. “We have the right people in place and … we’re improving our business,” said Vesling.