Kickers Unveils US Plan

French footwear brand Kickers is making a return stateside.

The label will launch a children’s line and some women’s product at The WSA Show this week. The move is part of a larger growth strategy by the brand’s Fougeres, France-based owner, Groupe Royer, to expand into more global markets, including India, the Middle East, South Africa and Japan.

“We are starting with mostly children’s because it contains the DNA of the brand,” said Jean-François Bru, GM of Kickers, adding that target retail accounts include Garnet Hill and Nordstrom. If the launch is successful, he added, Kickers plans to expand the offering to include men’s for fall ’10.

At WSA, the brand will offer 40 to 45 styles retailing from $59 for kids’ product to $99 for women’s.

As part of the new venture, Groupe Royer — which also owns Stephane
Kélian, Patrick Cox and Paul & Joe Sister — is forming a new company called Kickers USA, which will be headquartered in New Hyde Park, N.Y.

The U.S. arm of Pentland Group Plc, the U.K. licensee for Kickers, is assisting Groupe Royer with back-office operations, including logistics and shipping, but Kickers USA will employ its own management team to direct its sales and strategy.

Created by Daniel Raufaste in 1970, Kickers became easily recognizable among consumers because of its engraved eyelets, crepe sole and label sewn onto the upper with the tagline “the original jeans boot.”

While it has had limited distribution in the U.S. in the past, it is widely available in Europe. In the U.K., for example, it has more than 500 points of sale including Kurt Geiger, Barratts and Office.

A number of retailers said they looked forward to seeing what the brand had to offer.

“I’m excited to hear they’re coming back,” said Roz Viemeister, owner of New York-based Shoofly, who said she would definitely consider adding Kickers to her product mix.

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