There's no business like the retail and wholesale shoe business for Brown Shoe Company. Brown Shoe operates 1,044 value-priced family footwear stores under the Famous Footwear banner in the US and Guam, 174 Naturalizer stores in the US and Canada, and a growing number of shoe stores in China. The company also sells shoes online and licenses Dr. Scholl's and Disney brand footwear. It distributes footwear worldwide through more than 3,000 retailers, including independent, chain (DSW), department stores (Sears), catalogs, and online retailers. Brown Shoe is opening new stores, closing underperforming ones, and updating styles to appeal to younger bipeds. The company has a growing footprint in China.
While Brown Shoe rings up nearly 90% of its sales in the US, its retail reach extends as far as China where its majority-owned subsidiary, B&H Footwear Limited, operates about 25 shoe stores in major cities. China is the source for 97% of Brown Shoe's footwear. Its sells retail footwear through 1,223 shoe stores across the US, Canada, and Guam (including 88 in Canada).
Brown Shoe Co's. wholesale business accounts for about a third of total sales. It supplies many of the major retailers in the US and Canada, as well as some 60 other countries. Important wholesale customers include TJX Corp., Ross Stores, Macy's, Wal-Mart, and Zappos.com. In fiscal 2013 (ends January) the wholesale business sold approximately 56 million pairs of shoes (down from 75 million pairs in 2007).
The company owns and operates Shoes.com, a pure-play Internet company. Its other online businesses, including FamousFootwear.com and Naturalizer.com, are tied to its retail stores. In addition to some 195 Naturalizer stores, Brown Footwear's Specialty Retail segment includes the Dr. Scholl's shoes and Sam Edelman chains.
Sales and Marketing
Brown Shoe's footwear is distributed throughout North America via retailers, including national chains, department stores, mass merchandisers, independent retailers, online retailers, and catalogs.
The company invests in advertising and marketing support, including public relations, tradeshows consumer media advertising, production, cooperative advertising, and digital advertising, with its wholesale customers. Total advertising and marketing expenses were $82.2 million, $83.0 million, and $90.8 million in fiscal 2014, 2013, and 2012, respectively.
In recent years the company saw a positive revenue growth trend until fiscal 2013, followed by 3% decline in 2014. Revenues decreased by 3% in 2014 due to the impact of discontinued operations (including The Basketball Marketing Company, Inc., the Avia and Nevados brands of American Sporting Goods Corporation, the Etienne Aigner brand, and the Vera Wang brand). In addition, net sales of the Specialty Retail segment decreased 7%, due to lower net sales at Shoes.com, a lower store count, and the impact of the 53rd week in fiscal 2013.
Brown Shoe's net income increased by 38% in fiscal 2014 thanks to a $21 million decline in restructuring and other special charges.
Cash from operations decreased from $197.9 million in fiscal 2013 to $104.03 million in fiscal 2014 due to an increase in inventories thanks to early purchases of inventory for the spring selling season and lower-than-anticipated sales for Famous Footwear.
Brown Shoe has been reducing the store counts of both its Famous Footwear and specialty retail chains, while gradually growing its retail footprint in China. Indeed, China is a growth market for Brown Shoe. Its B&H Footwear subsidiary opened five stores in China in fiscal 2014 bringing its total in China to more than 30 locations. Also, through a joint venture with China's Hongguo International Holdings, Brown Shoe operates some 80 stores there and plans to open more than 20 in the coming year.
To attract younger shoppers, Brown Shoe has also invested in its own portfolio of profitable businesses that provide youth-inspired items. In 2013 it sponsored ABC's Good Morning America summer concert series to increase Famous Footwear’s visibility and brand presence across the US.
In fiscal 2013 Brown Shoe expanded its Famous Footwear retail chain outside of the US, opening at the Toronto Premium Outlets in Halton Hills, Ontario. That year, Sam Edelman launched a new jewelry collection, partnering with the Designer Jewelry Division of Almar Sales for the line, which debuted at major department stores and online.
In fiscal 2013 Brown Shoe sold its Avia and Nevados businesses for $74 million. Galaxy Brand Holdings acquired the Avia and Nevados brands, while Brown Shoe retained Ryka, and other brands, and plans to use the proceeds from the sale to pay down debt. (Brown Shoe's portfolio realignment began in 2011 and continued throughout 2012. Initiatives included the sale of The Basketball Marketing Company acquired along with athletic footwear manufacturer American Sporting Goods (ASG) in 2011, exiting select women's specialty and private-label brands and the children's wholesale business, the closure of two US distribution centers and facilities in China. The company also terminated its licensing agreement with the Etienne Aigner brand).