WWD.com/footwear-news/business/a-timeline-of-brown-shoes-building-blocks-7650126
business
business

A Timeline of Brown Shoe's Building Blocks

Here are key moments from over the years.

Famous Footwear in the 1980s
Famous Footwear today

Famous Footwear today

Photo By COURTESY OF BROWN

This week, Brown Shoe Co. will celebrate 100 years of being listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Below are some of the firm's key moments from over the years.

And for more analysis on how Brown Shoe has weathered the many changes in the industry and economy, check out this feature article from Monday's issue of Footwear News.


1878

• George Warren Brown and his partners, Alvin Bryan and Jerome Desnoyers, launch Bryan, Brown & Co.

1893
• Firm changes name to Brown Shoe Co.

1904
• Company purchases the rights to the Buster Brown character name; “Buster Brown” show tours country, playing to audiences in theaters, department stores and shoe stores

1914
• Firm lists on New York Stock Exchange under the ticker BWS

1927
• Naturalizer women’s brand launches

1940
• LifeStride line debuts

1951
• Company acquires Wohl Shoe Co., operator of 350 specialty stores and 800 shoe departments for major department stores

1954
• The first Naturalizer store opens in Jamaica, N.Y.

1959
• Firm buys Perth Shoe Co., now known as Brown Shoe Co. of Canada Ltd.

1970-74
• Company purchases Cloth World, Eagle Rubber, Hedstrom, BottomHalf and Meis Department Stores; forms Recreational Products Cos. division

1972
• Name changes again to Brown Group Inc.

1981
• The 36-store Famous Footwear chain is acquired

1984
• Firm establishes its Brown Group International division

1985-1996
• A decade-long repositioning commences by selling the non-footwear businesses and closing the domestic manufacturing plants, shifting production to China

1987
• Acquisition of Pagoda Trading Co. is completed

1991
• Company signs its long-term license for the Dr. Scholl’s brand

1999
• Name changes back to Brown Shoe Co.
• Ron Fromm is appointed CEO
• Naturalizer revitalizes its image with a new marketing campaign and fresh product styling geared to a younger, more fashion-conscious woman
• Brown acquires e-commerce retailer Shoes.com

2000
• Firm buys 26-store chain Mil-Mar and folds it into Famous Footwear

2002
• Naturalizer celebrates 75 years
• Carlos by Carlos Santana brand launches

2003
• Famous Footwear begins repositioning to appeal to the “fashion value” customer

2004
• Buster Brown celebrates 100 years
• Company signs Bass footwear license

2005
• Firm acquires Bennett Footwear Group LLC, along with its Via Spiga, Franco Sarto, Etienne Aigner and Nickels Soft brands

2006
• Bennett Footwear is integrated into Brown New York

2007
• Plans are announced to open Naturalizer and Via Spiga stores in China
• Company signs an agreement with Sam and Libby Edelman to invest in Edelman Shoe Inc.

2008
• Celebrity-licensed brand Fergie debuts
• Brown plans to create an interconnected footwear company in its St. Louis headquarters

2009
• A West Coast retailer distribution center opens

2010
• Firm buys remaining 50 percent stake in Edelman Shoe Inc. from founders Sam and Libby Edelman

2011
• Diane Sullivan is appointed president and CEO
• Brown expands its reach into healthy living with the acquisition of American Sporting Goods
• Vince is added to the footwear portfolio
• Company exits children’s footwear business and licenses kids’ brands Buster Brown, Sam Edelman and Avia to BBC International

2012
• Portfolio realignment is completed
• Famousfootwear.com logs more than 60 million visits, with a quarter of them on mobile devices
• Firm terminates Etienne Aigner license

2013
• Avia and Nevados are sold for $74 million
• Famous Footwear launches its free shopping app for iPhone and Android
• FN names Diane Sullivan as Person of the Year

2014
• Sullivan adds the chairman title
• Company purchases Franco Sarto for $65 million