In 1904, Brown Shoe partnered with Buster Brown’s creator, cartoonist Richard Outcault, and purchased the name from him. The company made marketing history by sending a series of actors, each dressed as Buster and accompanied by a dog (Tige) to tour the country selling Buster Brown shoes. Today, Brown Shoe is a $2.3 billion footwear company with a portfolio that speaks not only to the company’s understanding of the footwear industry, but also an understanding of how to remain relevant in consumers’ minds.
- Headquarters: St. Louis, Mo.
- Founding year: 1878
- Number of locations as of January 2011: 1,300
- Brands: Famous Footwear, Dr. Scholl’s, Buster Brown, Shoes.com, Fergie, Via Spiga
- Q4 2010 net sales: $604.5 million, a 6.8% increase over Q4 2009
Acquisitions also powered Brown Shoe’s place as a permanent fixture in consumers’ minds. In 1981, the company acquired the 36-store Famous Footwear chain, which has grown to 950 stores today and continues to grow in popularity: in the fourth quarter of 2010, Famous Footwear same-store sales grew 4.9% and followed a 9.0% same-store sales gain in the fourth quarter of 2009.
With the current focus on health and wellness pulsing through the apparel industry, Brown Shoe acquired American Sporting Goods Corporation (ASG) in early 2011. In addition to great performance at Famous Footwear, Diane Sullivan, president and COO, said Brown Shoe’s wholesale brands saw almost a 20% sales improvement over 2009 despite sourcing and supply chain inefficiencies challenges.
“Our brands continue to improve their connection with consumers through innovative marketing, enhanced product styling, and assortments, and we continue to achieve greater productivity in our retail portfolio,” said Sullivan. “We are excited to add American Sporting Goods’ athletic and outdoor brands to our portfolio and believe these brands represent a great strategic fit and will bolster our position in the healthy living market.”