New Havaianas Prez to Target U.S.

Afonso Sugiyama said he will work to "understand the American consumer."

with contributions from JUSTIN FENNER

Havaianas has a new leader.

Alpargatas USA Inc., parent company in the U.S. of the Brazilian sandal brand, has named Afonso Sugiyama president of the company. Sugiyama has been with the company for three and a half years and previously oversaw strategic and financial planning for Havaianas in Brazil and managed the openings of the U.S. and European Alpargatas offices.

Sugiyama now reports to Carla Schmitzberger, the Brazil-based global director of sandals. Glen Lagerstrom, EVP of sales and marketing, and Marcio Moura, VP of finance and operations, reports to Sugiyama.

Sugiyama told Footwear News that his new position would focus more on the U.S. market and building brand awareness.

“I think the key challenge for the American market is to understand the American consumer,” he said. “We’re working to broaden the understanding of the Havaianas brand with the general American consumer. And that’s going to be the critical aspect to [achieve] success in the U.S. operation, to take us to the next level.”

He also will draw upon his roots, he said.

“The brand is really something that is in the blood of every Brazilian, given that it’s such a strong part of our day-to-day lives,” he said. “And hopefully my previous experience with the brand — and as a Brazilian — will help me bring the same feeling, the same passion for the brand that the Brazilians have, to the American public.”

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