Champion to Focus on Women’s at Geox

NEW YORK — Gary Champion is ready to shake things up at Geox.

The former Clarks executive, who was named to the newly created post of COO of North America earlier this month, is looking to significantly expand the brand’s stateside presence. While Geox is already a global powerhouse, this year’s sales are expected to top $1.2 billion, the U.S. market is still a small part of the company’s overall revenues.

Kids’ is the largest part of the business, representing 45 percent of total sales, and now Champion is focused on growing the men’s and women’s lines. ‘“Our brand is for sophisticated, fashionable women who want to be trend right,” he said. “We want to hit that consumer.”

According to Champion, Geox is well positioned in the difficult retail environment. Department stores, he said, are finding women trading down in the luxe market to footwear in the $150-to -$225 range, creating an opportunity for Geox, which has price points of $120 to $150. “Stores are looking for brands with fashion at a more reasonable price,” he said.

Still, he admitted there’s work to be done when it comes to communicating Geox’s fashion message. Until now, the brand focused on marketing its breathable technology. Going forward, however, the company will look at developing campaigns around the fashion components of the line.

On the distribution front, Champion said that in addition to department stores, the brand will target independent accounts.

Danny Wasserman, owner of Tip Top Shoes in New York, has been carrying Geox since its U.S. debut. He said Champion has the expertise to take the brand to the next level. “He has the experience to position Geox the same way in the U.S. as it’s positioned in Italy and around the world,” said Wasserman. “Geox needs to interpret Italian styles for a U.S. sensibility.”

Overall, Champion expects low double-digit growth in the U.S. this year, after a 17 percent increase in 2008.

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