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SHOES IN STORE FOR PACSUN? Tapping shoe industry veteran Gary Schoenfeld for the top post at Pacific Sunwear of California Inc. could be the impetus for the teen retailer to get back into footwear. Schoenfeld, the former Vans Inc. CEO who last week was named president and CEO of PacSun, told Footwear News that shoes “are certainly something we’ll take a look at.” He pointed, in particular, to the young men’s market as being rife with opportunity. “Guys take a lot of interest in the brands around footwear,” he said. The 927-door retailer has been mostly out of the footwear game since April 2008, when it cut back on buying sneaker and fashion shoes and began stocking only sandals. Although PacSun has reintroduced sneakers in a limited way, it has left the majority of the skate shoe category to teen retail competitors such as Journeys and Zumiez. Although Schoenfeld admitted he has a “bias toward footwear,” the executive said that repositioning PacSun will be his first task. “PacSun has a great heritage in California, and for a long time, it was defined principally by the action sports and the beach lifestyle,” he said. “PacSun stands for more than that.” The company announced on June 17 that Schoenfeld would replace Sally Frame Kasaks, who had been CEO since 2006. Immediately prior to joining PacSun, Schoenfeld was co-CEO of Global Brands Group, an international company focused on product licensing, brand management and retail development.
— JESSICA PALLAY
FOOTWEAR TRUMPS APPAREL: All things considered, footwear is faring better than apparel in the current economy, according to a new study by The NPD Group. The report states that for the three months ended in April, fashion footwear sales were down 6.4 percent, compared with apparel sales, which declined 8.6 percent. Some footwear categories even managed an increase. Sales of outdoor footwear rose 7.9 percent, while sport leisure increased 5.8 percent. Among the declines, dress shoes topped the list, dropping 22.9 percent. Performance footwear declined 11.8 percent, while casual shoes fell 11 percent. “What this shows me is that when the product is right and offers multiple reasons for wear, the purchases will come,” NPD chief industry analyst Marshal Cohen, said in a statement. “Consumers are showing they want footwear and are willing to show their passion on their feet rather than on their backs.” The survey also found that while consumers are shopping less often and buying less-expensive products, they are still willing to spend for shoes. However, they are altering where they buy. The group’s tracking records showed that sales at online footwear retailers rose 24.7 percent, compared with the same period a year ago. Sales at sporting goods stores rose 10 percent. Footwear sales at mass merchant accounts were down 2.7 percent, while off-price sellers declined 1.5 percent. “Consumers are finding the widest selection of product available online, coupled with free shipping and the convenience of no parking hassles,” said Cohen. “It looks like a winning combination.”
— WAYNE NIEMI
UNDER ARMOUR DEPARTURE: Just months after the January debut of Under Armour Inc.’s running shoe, the company’s top footwear executive, Raphael Peck, resigned from the firm, effective June 12. Thomas Shaw, an analyst at Stifel Nicolas, believes Under Armour tapped Peck, an apparel executive who joined the firm in 2002, to help jumpstart non-cleated footwear, but the company “is now in a position to secure a proven footwear veteran to take it to the next level.” Shaw declined to speculate on who that veteran might be, but said he “would not be surprised to see someone with a Nike/Adidas/Puma-type pedigree.” An Under Armour spokesperson said a search for a new footwear head has been under way since early 2009 and a replacement is expected in the coming months. In the meantime, Adam Peake, VP of sales, is serving as the interim executive in charge of footwear. “This news likely heightens investor concerns of the running shoe success,” said Shaw in his research note. However, he added, “Mr. Peck’s decision [to depart] appears to have been made in early 2009 and is not a function of recent footwear performance.”