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How Journeys’ Strong Relationships With Brands Helped It Navigate Supply Chain Woes

This earnings season, supply chain issues are plaguing footwear retailers across the board. Some, like teen mall staple Journeys, are faring better than others.

Genesco Inc., which owns Journeys, Journeys Kidz, Schuh, Schuh Kids, Little Burgundy and Johnston & Murphy, said in a call with investors on Thursday that Journeys managed to navigate global supply chain problems better than many competitors in the footwear space.

“Journeys’ performance, as we emerge from the pandemic, highlights the competitive advantage the business has built and how we are leveraging those advantages to further separate ourselves from the rest of the industry as the destination for fashion footwear for teens,” said Genesco board chair, president and CEO Mimi Vaughn.

Genesco’s sales in Q2 increased 42% year-over-year to $555 million, with Journeys delivering record revenue and operating profit in Q2 in its third consecutive quarter with record profitability.

Throughout the pandemic, freight rates have reached record highs amid shipping slowdowns, factory and store shutdowns, clogged ports and worker shortages. Retailers and distributors such as Walmart, Target and VF Corp. have implemented solutions to work around industry-wide delays. But some have managed the crisis better than others.

In the case of Journeys Group, which operates 1,159 Journeys, Journeys Kidz and Little Burgundy stores across North America, certain key strategies and advantages helped the retailer outperform competitors this quarter.

In navigating supply chain issues, Vaughn said Journeys leaned into “decades of experience and its unparalleled vendor partnerships” to make sure stores carried the products that consumers wanted. With consumers making a general shift toward casual and athletic footwear, Journeys was in a good position to reap the benefits of consumer demand. As a result, the chain saw increases in both store and e-commerce sales compared with pre-pandemic levels.

“The current fashion cycle, which has been shifting more to casual product, plays into Journeys’ wheelhouse with strength in the assortment across the board,” Vaughn said.

Overall, Genesco has invested an additional $7 million in costs for additional vessels and air freight. Executives also said the company has ordered some core products earlier than usual and has been “chasing inventory” since last quarter.

Journeys, in particular, has benefited from having strong relationships with a diverse array of suppliers and brands across multiple factories. These relationships, Vaughn said, have helped ensure that Journeys has enough core product to sell to consumers, an advantage that many independent footwear retailers currently lack.

“We’re an important partner to our brands,” Vaughn said. “They’ve worked with us as much as possible. Journeys always gets more than its fair share of product.”

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