Private equity-owned footwear brand Cole Haan on Friday withdrew its registration to go public, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Nearly a year ago the company, which was acquired by U.K.-based Apax Partners in 2013, gave the SEC a placeholder target of $100 million to be raised through an initial public offering, according to original and amended documents from February 2020.
The footwear retailer initiated the IPO process in 2019.
Through its Generation ZERØGRAND label launched in 2019, Cole Haan was already grappling with consumers' mounting desire for more casual footwear, a trend the pandemic has only strengthened. But the company remains most closely associated with dress shoes for workplaces and special events — occasions that these days increasingly allow sneakers and other shoes that are more comfortable and fun.
With the pandemic continuing to keep many employees working and recreating from home, footwear hasn't even really been required at all for nearly a year. The trend toward more casual styles began well before the pandemic and is likely to endure even after it finally ends, considering that 70% of consumer say they'll stick with more casual apparel even after they're allowed out of the house, according to a January report from The NPD Group.
"While we will surely see an uptick in sales as society gets moving again, NPD’s Future of Footwear report projects that in 2021, the fashion category will recoup less than half of the volume it lost in 2020," NPD accessories and footwear analyst Beth Goldstein said in a recent email.
Cole Haan's withdrawal is a likely reflection of those prospects. It also represents the latest example of trouble with a common investment approach at private equity firms. Those investors often plan to unload holdings after five years or so through a sale or IPO, but several private equity-backed retailers this year filed for bankruptcy instead, in some cases after failing to attract a buyer.