Payless to Open Four New Markets

Payless ShoeSource’s footprint just got even bigger.

The retailer, a division of Topeka, Kan.-based Collective Brands Inc., Wednesday announced it has struck franchise deals to open Payless stores in four new international markets: Indonesia, Mexico, Malaysia and Singapore.

“We have seen a strong global appetite for our brands,” Matt Rubel, chairman, CEO and president of Collective Brands, said in a statement. “The franchise model for Payless is proving to be a strong strategy for us as it accelerates our ability to place stores in new countries and with minimal capital investment. Payless brings the know-how in footwear specialty retailing, and our franchise partners bring their strong infrastructure and experience in the local regions.”

In Mexico, Grupo Axo, which has worked with such brands as Coach, Marc Jacobs and Emporio Armani, will partner with Payless on a projected 41 Payless stores in three years. Both companies believe Mexico can ultimately support as many 300 stores, significantly raising Payless’ profile in the fast-expanding Latin American market.

“Mexico has a strong and growing economy with more than 100 million people who are interested in fashion and the latest trends, but who want it at a great value,” said Payless CEO LuAnn Via. “That’s what Payless is all about.”

Jakarta, Indonesia-based Map Active will represent Payless in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. The company expects to open 20 Payless units across the three countries by 2011, with a larger rollout to follow. According to Payless, Indonesia, which is home to more than 240 million consumers, represents the chain’s biggest franchise market opportunity to date.

“We are excited to partner with Map Active to address the burgeoning Indonesia market with its significant population and emerging economy,” Via said. “Malaysia and Singapore [also] have very strong and growing middle class economies, which are a good match for Payless.”

The news comes after previous announcements that Payless would enter the Middle East in 2009 and the Russian market this year.

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