With its roots as a popular basketball shoe worn by professionals, Converse has morphed under NIKE into a fashionable footwear maker for those off the court, too. It has sold some 750 million pairs of its classic Chuck Taylor All Star canvas basketball shoes, which appeal to consumers ranging from kids to clothing designers. It also licenses its name to sports apparel makers. Converse produces products under the One Star, Chuck Taylor All Star, and Jack Purcell names. It sells them through its own stores and through retailers the likes of Target and even DSW. Converse operates as a separate unit from NIKE's competing sports brands, reining in the kitsch value of Converse's vintage Chuck Taylor brand.
Massachusetts-based Converse sells its footwear and other items globally through retailers in more than 160 countries and through about 85 company-owned retail stores nationwide and half a dozen international retail stores. The company maintains a facility in Ontario, California, from which it ships products for two of NIKE's affiliate brands -- Converse and Hurley.
Its largest direct distribution markets are the US, the UK, and China.
It's relocating its world headquarters in early 2015 to Boston.
Converse contributed about 6% of NIKE's fiscal 2014 revenue.
Converse's revenue rose some 16% in fiscal 2014 to nearly $1.7 million vs. 2013's $1.45 million. Direct distribution markets, which generate some 84% of Converse's revenues, were responsible for the gains as licensing revenues slipped by 1%.
Converse is recognized as a top contributor among a handful of NIKE's brands. To this end, NIKE divested its big-name Cole Haan and Umbro units to focus on growing the NIKE, Jordan, Converse, and Hurley brand names.
Converse counts its strategy of regularly rolling out new products to keep consumers enticed to keep adding Converse shoes to their closets. The rise can be attributed to increased consumer demand in the US and internationally.
What has helped to spur sales increases is Converse's launch of a sneaker line linked to classic rock brands, such as The Who and Pink Floyd. The Who tribute shoe even outpaced the firm's previous best seller -- the basic black Chuck Taylor. Converse has added to its collection by debuting sneakers featuring Metallica and AC/DC, as well as a line of Dr. Seuss-inspired sneakers for men, women, and children through a deal with Dr. Seuss Enterprises. The shoe company further identifies with musicians through its Converse Rubber Tracks, a recording studio it opened in Brooklyn in mid-2011 that's offered free to recording artists and groups. In 2014 Converse partnered with British luxury brand Hancock Vulcanised Articles to enhance the Jack Purcell mid-top sneaker with rubber-bonded, water-repellant materials.
Sales and Marketing
Foot Locker, the company's largest customer, accounts for about a fifth of sales. Converse sells products to retailers through local and regional distributors.