Can David Nichols Revive K-Swiss?

LOS ANGELES — A day after being named global president of K-Swiss Inc., David Nichols said he plans to refocus the struggling brand and expand its international presence.

Nichols, who had served as EVP for the company, said his new role would give him direct oversight over all aspects of the label, from marketing and sales to product development.

And while he already has been involved with K-Swiss’ European efforts, in his new position Nichols said he also would work much more closely with the company’s Asian business.

However, Nichols’ first initiative will be to put the company’s focus back on lifestyle product.

“The big push for us now is going to be getting back to a lifestyle emphasis, particularly with our Clean Classic launch,” Nichols said. “We believe there is this trend building where kids are dressing up a little more preppy, and we feel that fits nicely with K-Swiss on the lifestyle side. The Clean Classic is a part of that and definitely the focus piece.”

The new product line, which removes the signature stripes on the classic K-Swiss silhouette and adds a variety of colors, begins shipping in June, priced at $55 to $125.

Category expansion also presents a big opportunity, Nichols said, noting that he was exploring new possibilities for the company’s apparel collection, which could call for licensing out that end of the business. “We’re looking at how we can grow our apparel business, [and that could mean] bringing in a partner in one form or another,” he said.

As Nichols moves forward with the new initiatives, there are still major hurdles to overcome at the brand.

K-Swiss narrowed its first-quarter loss, but performed worse than expected, sending its shares down 7 percent in Thursday morning trading.

The Westlake Village, Calif.-based firm lost $6.7 million, or 19 cents a share. That was down from a loss of $9.8 million, or 28 cents, a year ago. Analysts were expecting to see a loss of 13 cents a share on revenue of $68.6 million.

Net revenue slipped 4.3 percent to $69.3 million year over year. While international sales advanced 17.8 percent, domestic revenues slid 33.5 percent.

Worldwide futures orders also dropped 32 percent to $71.5 million, mainly dragged down by domestic futures, which plunged 54 percent. International backlog slumped 14 percent.

“We have much work to do in reversing our overall backlog trend and the domestic business,” Steven Nichols, K-Swiss’ chairman and CEO, said in a statement. The elder Nichols will continue to lead the company.

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