Financo Forum: How to Succeed in Business

Though the topics ranged far and wide, Financo’s annual CEO forum offered compelling success stories from top executives.

The 22nd annual Retail & Consumer Industry Seminar and CEO Event, held Monday night at the Harmonie Club in Manhattan and hosted by Chairman Gilbert Harrison and newly appointed CEO Colin Welch, drew a wide cross section of footwear and retail power players to discuss reaching consumers in the retail and e-tail environments.

Moderated by Bloomberg TV’s Margaret Brennan, the panel consisted of Chris Burch of C. Wonder, Gilt Groupe Chairman Susan Lyne, Under Armour founder and CEO Kevin Plank and Walter Robb, co-CEO of Whole Foods Market.

According to Plank, his Baltimore-based brand — which he noted will hit $2 billion in sales by 2013 — still has big dreams for footwear. “We’d like to see it exceed apparel,” he said. And the key to achieving that goal, he explained, is to seek out the newest technologies, either by creating them in-house or working with outside inventors and entrepreneurs. “The best brands are not predicting what’s cool. The best brands are dictating what’s cool,” Plank said.

Meanwhile, Gilt’s Lyne focused on the importance of knowing the customer.

“We’re very focused on personalizing emails,” she said. “We run two analyses every night on buying and browsing habits, and your email the next day is based on that.” So far, she noted, that close focus on data analysis has paid off in increased sales conversion of 9 percent or 10 percent since the implementation last year.

For more on Financo’s event, see Monday’s issue of Footwear News.

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