The $2.1 billion all-stock marriage between popular television shopping giants QVC and HSN Inc. is the latest in a series of big-player consolidation, which experts have largely viewed as traditional retail’s answer to Amazon’s rapid rise. (That’s not to say that QVC — whose parent, Liberty Interactive Corp., purchased smaller competitor HSNi — and HSN are truly traditional. Both were among the first of their kind — arguably pioneering the home shopping platform.)
While the companies will operate as distinct brands under the newly formed QVC Group — comprised of HSNi, QVC and Zulily — the merger is expected to help the businesses gain scale, ward off competition, cut costs and ramp up innovation. (HSNi consists of interactive retailer HSN and Cornerstone, which comprises several home and apparel lifestyle brands, including Frontgate, Garnet Hill and Grandin Road. Liberty owns both QVC and online retailer Zulily.)
But as the two fierce competitors — QVC and HSN — come to a meeting of the minds, brands that have sold their wares on either platform are mulling potential opportunities and challenges.
In the past, some brands have not been able to sell on both QVC and HSN simultaneously due to contractual obligations — so far, there hasn’t been any confirmation regarding whether that would change. However, several labels say they see new potential in the merger.
Here, four shoe brands that are sold on QVC sound off on their expectations of the deal.
President, Clarks Americas Inc.
“I think they will keep HSN and QVC separate. HSN delivers another customer base for QVC that’s different for them. QVC owns that traditional customer, while HSN really works on capturing that younger and more fashionable consumer with the products they carry. I think that opens a whole new world for QVC, and that’s a terrific opportunity. The way we’re taking our brand, we’re doing some more directional product in our Artisan and premium products. [The merger] creates an opportunity, since we get more traditional with [our] Unstructured or Cloudsteppers [lines] with QVC. We could do Artisan and Clarks premium trend-related contemporary products that move the brand forward with HSN and see how that balances out. That’s where I see the opportunity if they take it in that direction.”
SVP, Bos & Co./Fly London brand
“Although we’ve been approached by HSN for our product lines, we have declined building a relationship with them due to our relationship with QVC and agreements we have in place. Our thoughts on HSN vs. QVC is that they offer different products at different price points and do not necessarily overlap.”
B. Scott Cates
President of sales, Pepper Gate Footwear/Alegria
“We are very excited about this acquisition and growth for both QVC and HSN. Both of these e-commerce/multimedia channels have a very loyal consumer base. In today’s world, that is one of the biggest challenges for any retailer — [so] this makes a perfect scenario. The Alegria brand has found synergy between our product and the uniqueness of the QVC customer. Long-term, that should prove to be a significant vehicle for adding exposure by bringing HSN into the fold. I have full confidence that all merchandising teams at QVC will certainly maximize the best of both. I don’t feel that brands will be condensed; QVC is constantly adding new innovative footwear in an effort to offer ‘her’ the best of what’s in the marketplace. Not all brands work in that channel, as it’s all about the brand story and [the brand’s] personal benefit to the buying consumer.”
CEO, Earth Brands Footwear
“We’re looking forward to expanding the excitement about Earth Shoes to an even broader TV audience.”