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Kohl’s Adds Cole Haan to Brand Portfolio in Shift to Active and Casual Shoe Offerings

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to promote active and casual wear, Kohl’s is leaning into those categories and adding to its brand portfolio.

Today, the department store introduced Cole Haan into its roster of footwear brands including sportswear giants Nike, Adidas and Under Armour, as well as skate labels Vans and Converse, casual players Toms, Stride Rite and Easy Spirit, plus women’s shoemaker Nine West. Cole Haan is now available at 200 Kohl’s stores across the country as well as online at Kohls.com.

The addition marks the latest move by the retailer to expand its assortment of athletic and comfort apparel and footwear. Speaking with FN, Kohl’s chief merchandising officer Doug Howe said, “We see COVID as an accelerator to some important consumer trends that have been underway for some time. Customers are adopting more active and casual lifestyles, and they’re shopping more digitally… We are optimizing and evolving our assortment to reflect this casualization trend.”

Beyond the debut of Cole Haan, Kohl’s brought in Lands’ End and Toms Shoes into its portfolio in the fall. It also recently launched its own private-label athleisure brand, FLX (pronounced “flex”), composed of core apparel like tees, loungewear and shorts, as well as seasonal pieces such as fleece and jackets for men and women.

In its fourth-quarter conference call early this month, Kohl’s shared a goal of increasing its active penetration to 30% of its total business from 20%. Among the initiatives it currently has in place is the expansion of activewear space within stores by at least 20% this year following a test run in 160 outposts over the past two years.

“This has been an extraordinary and defining time for retail,” Howe said. “We have a very strong foundation to build upon — a great portfolio of brands, an incredible e-commerce platform and a healthy store base — and we believe Kohl’s is well-positioned to capitalize on changing consumer behaviors and the significant disruption of the retail industry.”

For the 2021 fiscal year, Kohl’s forecasted that net sales would increase in the mid-teens percentage range, while operating margin is expected to be in the range of 4.5% to 5% and earnings per share in the range of $2.45 to $2.95, excluding any nonrecurring charges.

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