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There’s no shock value left, no more room for lamenting what was. Now is the time to accept the cold, hard facts of life: The business’ glory days may not return
for quite a while.
Those who are prepared to accept this reality and move forward will be the eventual winners. Those who can’t will fall by the wayside. It’s that simple.
These last few weeks have been telling. After the craziness of holiday sales came the dreaded January doldrums. Under the best of circumstances, this is a challenging time, and last month, the long, dark wintery days were the source of much angst for industry players trying to cope after the financial meltdown last fall. While it lived up to its billing in many ways, January also has been a time of acceptance and regrouping by those companies that see opportunity amid the havoc of a sharply diminished global economy.
At the recent Outdoor Retailer show in Salt Lake City, business was clearly off. Show officials called it a modest dip, but the local cabbies (an excellent source of information) were probably more accurate, noting a drop in traffic nearing 30 percent. Even in diminished form, this market still displayed a certain amount of vibrancy driven by the innovative and passionate players at the wholesale and retail levels.
While most lamented the current state of business, many of the more forward-thinking executives in Salt Lake City had their eyes focused on the future. To the surprise of many, two major deals were announced in the first two days of the show. Wolverine’s purchase of Chaco and Decker’s buy of Ahnu both fit a pattern that could repeat in the days and months to come.
Solid industry players with clean balance sheets will be able to boost their portfolios by snapping up established, albeit struggling, brands at bargain prices. If the current economic state has made it hard on little brands, it also has presented an unprecedented buying opportunity for the right players. In most cases, it is a win-win situation for buyer and seller.
The new deals prove that even in the darkest times, there are options for growth. And the opportunities in the footwear market don’t end with mergers and acquisitions.