Readers' Choice: Planning Ahead for 2010

How are footwear firms prepping for the year ahead?

After more than a year of belt tightening, the footwear industry is looking toward 2010 with a sense of hope and an eye toward expansion. Readers said there are plenty of opportunities out there, from reviving retail spots to new product categories to smart business solutions. One retailer said his company will target the “Florida, Arizona and Southern California markets,” while other execs planned to move into emerging global destinations. A corporate VP put it best when he said he would pursue “retail expansion at the best rents in 10 years.” And on the product side, a footwear manager pointed to opportunity in mid- to lower-priced men’s contemporary dress shoes, and a retail owner/operator named rocker-bottom shoes as a sales driver. Overall, respondents emphasized service and standards of quality. “We’re reinvesting in the stores and owners who carried our brands when the big stores wouldn’t,” said a brand sales rep. “I want to give a level of service to these family owned shops that no other rep gives in my territory.”

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