Brown Shoe Announces Strong Quarter

Brown Shoe Announces Strong Quarter
Diane Sullivan

Brown Shoe Co. was a standout again in the third quarter, thanks to strong wholesale performance and a consistent showing by Famous Footwear.

“I’m really pleased with these results — especially after hearing so much about the impact of weather, caution at retail and lack of trends,” said Diane Sullivan, chairman, president and CEO of Brown in a conference call last week. “We succeeded because each of [our] brands tried to embrace their unique consumer and capitalize on the relevant trends in the market to drive their sales.”

Sales from wholesale were up 18.2 percent in the period compared with the same quarter of 2013.
Sam Edelman, Franco Sarto, Vince, Via Spiga and Naturalizer were among the key winners in the period, with high-to-mid single-digit growth.

“Sam Edelman is really hitting all the marks,” said Steve Marotta, an analyst at CL King & Associates. “Sam is very passionate about his consumer; if Brown had a whole army of Sams, they’d be set.”

During the quarter, Edelman opened a new store in Los Angeles and also expanded into new Macy’s locations.

Moving forward, Brown will continue to invest in the apparel category along with planning a new Edelman retail store in downtown Manhattan.

Elsewhere in the portfolio, Naturalizer has continued to develop, according to analysts, and the brand supports the company’s push into the healthy-lifestyle division.

“It’s a lot of little things that they’re doing right here, from design decisions to shortening lead, delivery and production time,” Marotta said.

Vince has also been a solid performer, with the recent men’s launch supporting growth in the women’s business.

Speaking broadly about the Brown portfolio, Danielle McCoy, an analyst at Wunderlich Securities, said: “Contemporary brands have been revamped and focus on product for a core consumer; each tailors the product now.”

Meanwhile, Famous Footwear continues to be a critical driver for the company. For back-to-school, the retailer’s comps were up 1.6 percent during the crucial weeks.

While softness in October did offset some of that growth, Sullivan was upbeat about the boot business and comps for November.