Allen Edmonds shifting focus toward more casual shoes

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Allen Edmonds is known for its classic dress shoes, but executives at Caleres, the brand’s St. Louis-based parent company, said this week the company will increasingly focus on more casual offerings.

“The shoes that people know Allen Edmonds for, we respect that,” said John Schmidt, division president – brand portfolio at Caleres. “They will always be a very important piece of the brand. However, as a percentage total, that will drop down as the consumer is really asking for a more casual product.”

Caleres says classic dress shoes currently make up about 65% of Allen Edmonds’ sales. By 2021, the company expects that number to drop to 45%.

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The company expects to fill that gap with growth in two other areas. Business casual shoes will go from 15% to 20% of sales by 2021 and luxury sneakers will increase from 5% to 20%. Caleres is also investing to “re-energize” the weekend casual  segment while aiming to keep it as 15% of sales.

Schmidt said the company’s luxury sneakers currently sell for $225 to $275 but the offering remains a work in progress.

“Our goal is to really give that consumer who buys an Allen Edmonds shoe … and has a great loyalty and love doing it that same amount of craft and that same experience except in a sports shoe,” Schmidt said.

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Caleres acquired Port Washington-based Allen Edmonds in late 2016 for $255 million.

In September 2018, the company said it would relaunch the Allen Edmonds brand with a focus on drawing younger, new customers to the brand. The company even included Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield is several commercials.

But after underwhelming results, Caleres decided to pull back on its investment and cut sales expectations for this year by as much as 20%. Executives said the marketing effort generated increased traffic to stores and online, but those visits did not turn into sales at a high enough rate.

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Diane Sullivan, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Caleres, told analysts and investors this week that she is happy with the company’s efforts to reduce the brand’s reliance on promotional efforts in the last year.

“Everything right now, as we look at it today, is hitting the targets that we had expected, which is pretty quick,” she said. “The consumer there is so loyal and believes in that brand so much. And it’s so hard to really create that kind of value. … I think we have a great opportunity to build on it.”


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