- Shoe Carnival on Thursday announced that its board unanimously elected Mark Worden as the retailer's new CEO, effective Sept. 30, according to a company press release. Worden has been serving as the company's president and chief customer officer.
- Current CEO Cliff Sifford will step down from the role but will continue to serve as the vice chairman of the company's board of directors.
- Sifford has been with the company since 1997 and has been acting as chief executive for the past nine years.
The change in the top leadership role at Shoe Carnival is part of a planned succession.
"When Mark joined Shoe Carnival nearly three years ago, our objective was to bring onboard an executive officer who would be positioned to take over as CEO at the right time," Sifford said in a statement.
Sifford is exiting as CEO in the midst of a difficult time for apparel and footwear retailers who have seen consumer trends drastically change due to COVID-19. Yet, Shoe Carnival has done relatively well in a challenging environment. In preliminary fourth quarter results, the company said it expects net sales to increase 5.8% year over year to $253.9 million. Comparable store sales are expected to see an increase of about 6.4%, on top of a 3.2% increase in the fourth quarter of 2019. The retailer will deliver its complete fourth quarter and fiscal year results on March 24.
Overall, footwear during the pandemic has been more casual, with categories like slippers and slides gaining popularity, while fashion shoes and boots have been among the worst performing, according to analysis by Beth Goldstein, NPD Group's industry analyst for accessories and footwear.
While dress footwear will see an uptick once events return, Goldstein said an initial surge in sales in that category will be temporary. "Dress footwear will be less relevant moving forward, as casualization and the prioritization of comfort continue. Therefore, recovery in the footwear industry will be driven by larger, more casual footwear categories like sandals, boots, fashion sneakers, and hybrid items," Goldstein said.