Teva Turnaround Taking Shape

LOS ANGELES — Is Deckers Outdoor Corp.’s careful nurturing of its Teva brand finally bearing fruit?

After several years of stalled sales, Teva rebounded in the first quarter, with net sales up 21.4 percent to $43.2 million. And execs said this is only the beginning of a full-fledged resurgence of the brand, which is now aiming to go younger with a closed-toe footwear offering.

“Nearly everything we’ve done over the past four years has moved Teva to this point,” said Teva Brand President Peter Worley. “We have a great team here, and there’s a very positive vibe. We’ve embraced innovation and the concept of continuous improvement.”

Worley said the challenge for the brand was to attract younger, more fashion-

conscious consumers, while maintaining its technical appeal to water enthusiasts.

“What we needed to do was leverage our heritage and expertise in water management to provide contemporary closed-toe products that look great with jeans, but also have the technical attributes and performance capabilities one would expect from Teva,” Worley said.

The new initiatives at the label are paying off at retail.

“As the brand has come back to life, so to speak, we’ve become more meaningful in channels such as [better-grade] lifestyle and department stores. We’ve also gotten back to full strength with many independent retailers that understandably dropped or scaled back the brand several years ago,” said Worley.

For their part, leading partners said the brand is connecting with consumers, who are embracing the new products.

“Teva has done a good job reinventing themselves to consumers while still keeping the brand DNA,” said Sharon Gauding, REI’s product manager for men’s footwear.

“We have seen positive customer reaction to several closed-toe footwear styles, including Teva’s offering,” she added. “REI expects the closed-toe category to continue trending up, which is a likely indicator that Teva’s success will continue.”

While Worley declined to offer sales projections, he said the brand was on a sustainable upward trajectory.

“We still have a ton of work to do just to realize our potential in 2010, but we should grow somewhere north of 20 percent, which would give the brand a record year,” he said. “Our spring product line is performing well, and our fall line is far more complete and relevant than ever before.”

Further out, Worley said, the brand is preparing to introduce its first winterized collection in 2011. Plans are also in the works to develop an apparel line.

Separately, Teva announced last week that it had committed $100,000 to assist in the oil cleanup in the Gulf of Mexico and plans to help raise awareness about the ecological disaster through its long-term charitable partner Waterkeeper Alliance.

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