Footwear company Caleres on Thursday announced its acquisition of comfort shoe company Vionic Group for $360 million.
The move allows Caleres to expand its brand portfolio and gives it a boost in the thriving comfort segment, the company said in a press release. Vionic, which sells through major retailers like Zappos and Nordstrom and gains some 25% of sales online, raked in $180 million in sales in the last 12 months. That reflects a compounded annual growth rate of more than 20% over the past six years.
Caleres also owns Famous Footwear as well as brands like Sam Edelman, Allen Edmonds, Naturalizer, Vince, Franco Sarto, Dr. Scholl's Shoes, LifeStride, Via Spiga, Diane von Furstenberg, Blowfish Malibu, Bzees, Carlos by Carlos Santana, Circus by Sam Edelman, Fergie and Ryka.
Consumers are voting not just with their feet but for them too, stoking sales of more casual and comfortable shoes.
Sell-outs of high heels declined 13.4% last year — despite a 28% increase in inventory year over year — while sellouts of sneakers have risen by 38%, with a 36.6% year-over-year increase in styles, fashion data-analytics firm Edited told Retail Dive earlier this year.
On a two-year basis, footwear sales in February grew in the low single-digits, in line with the "tepid" full-year 2017 sales, according to an April report emailed to Retail Dive from Matt Powell, NPD group vice president and senior industry advisor of sports. Sales of sport lifestyle, the largest segment in athletic footwear, grew 16% in February over last year, while running footwear sales grew just shy of 1%, Powell said. Meanwhile, February sales of dress and non-athletic casual footwear improved but remained well below 2016 levels, NPD Fashion Footwear & Accessories Analyst Beth Goldstein said in the same email.
Vionic fits with the company's other comfort brands including Naturalizer, Dr. Scholl's and Ryka, according to comments emailed to Retail Dive from Wedbush analysts led by Christopher Svezia, who noted that the acquisition "is nicely accretive to [earnings] in FY19 net of debt and amortization costs." But Vionic also brings Caleres beyond its core merchandising and sales. "In addition, Vionic's management team is well established and adds value to the overall enterprise," Svezia wrote. "Specifically, Connie Rishwain, who is President of Vionic and joined the company [about]18 months ago, brings a wealth of knowledge given her 15 years of experience at UGG, most recently as President ... Over time, there is also opportunity around back office and sourcing synergies."
In a statement, Caleres CEO Diane Sullivan noted similar opportunities. "The brand has already proven to be a disruptive addition to the industry, as the dynamic Vionic team has blended proprietary technology with comfort and style," she said. "We're looking forward to supporting the brand in their continued success and to sharing our extensive infrastructure, including our expertise in product design, brand development and global sourcing."