Caleres Acquires a Majority Stake in This $27M Shoe Brand

Caleres is beefing up its portfolio again.

The owner of Famous Footwear and brands such as Sam Edelman and Franco Sarto has acquired a controlling interest in shoe brand Blowfish Malibu, which has trailing 12-month revenue of $27 million.

Caleres used existing cash flow to snap up the label, founded in 2005 by veteran shoe executives Don Weiss and Stephen Hoyt, and known for its laid-back California lifestyle aesthetic.

“The decision to partner with Blowfish Malibu was an easy one, as it allows for continued expansion of our overall business and gives us additional exposure to the growing sneaker and casual lifestyle segment of the market,” said Caleres president, chairman and CEO Diane Sullivan. “Since they were formed, Blowfish Malibu has focused on interpreting current global trends to create the newest and hottest original styles in women’s footwear, with a great value proposition, and we can’t wait to welcome the team to Caleres.”

The St. Louis-based firm is marking its second acquisition in the past year and a half. In December 2016, Caleres announced its procurement of men’s shoe label Allen Edmonds for $255 million.

This time around, the company did not disclose the terms of its Blowfish buy but said the acquisition is expected to be accretive within one year.

“The opportunity to partner with Caleres, and to grow our brand even further, has inspired the entire team at Blowfish Malibu,” said Weiss, co-founder and president of the latter. “The support of a strong partner — in terms of sourcing and back-office — is something we’ve been searching for, and we’re glad we found it with Caleres.”

Amid the rapid rise of digital and significantly greater competition in the retail space, a growing number of independent brands are attaching themselves to larger parent firms in hopes that such companies could provide a safety net as well as take care of other administrative and logistical tasks.

Last year, in similar fashion, previously family-owned Schwartz & Benjamin found a suitor in successful fashion footwear maker Steve Madden. In the luxury space, independent fashion house Dries Van Noten last month sold a majority stake to Barcelona-based fashion and fragrance firm Puig.

“We’re looking forward to working with the entire Caleres team,” Hoyt, co-founder and lead designer of Blowfish, said of today’s deal. “This partnership, with an industry leader in leveraging sourcing infrastructure, will open up even more potential for our brand as we continue to make footwear that is comfortable on your feet and good for your soul.”

When Caleres reported Q1 earnings in June, its sales for the period edged up just under 1 percent to $632.1 million. Profits gained 7.5 percent to $17.2 million.

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