Footwear retailer Caleres has inked a deal to expand the distribution of its brands in Greater China – including Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan – through a new international joint venture (JV). 

The US firm has entered into a strategic partnership with Shanghai-based multi-brand retail management and distribution company Brand Investment Holding, part of the Gemkell Group, which operates luxury fashion retail boutiques, including Balenciaga, Chloé, Givenchy, Kenzo and Marc Jacobs, in the Asia Pacific region.

Naturalizer and Sam Edelman will be the first brands to be marketed and sold across multiple channels under the arrangement, including branded retail stores and e-commerce sites.

"This strategic partnership allows Caleres to continue to expand globally in one of the world's biggest markets and pairs our footwear expertise and brand strength with Gemkell's deep knowledge of the Chinese consumer and retail expertise," says Diane Sullivan, CEO, president and chairman of Caleres.

"We believe now is the right time to significantly expand our presence in China and are beginning with Naturalizer, as we look to create fresh momentum with the Chinese consumer, and are also aggressively building on the strong foundation Sam Edelman has established in China over the past few years."

Both Naturalizer and Sam Edelman will be available online this summer, with availability at brick and mortar in an initial group of six new stores in key cities. The first Naturalizer door will also open in Beijing this summer, followed by Sam Edelman in Shanghai. Additional stores are planned for other markets as the business expands.

"We look for opportunities to partner with storied brands like Naturalizer and Sam Edelman, which we find to be well-suited to our expertise in brand management and marketing," adds Kwan Heh-Der, CEO of Brand Investment Holding. "Caleres's long history in the footwear industry – and its deep understanding of brand marketing, consumer engagement and retail – make the Caleres team a natural complement to our own."

Caleres' other brands include Famous Footwear, Allen Edmonds, Vionic, and Dr Scholl's Shoes.

The firm recently reported a rise in first-quarter net sales of 7.2% to US$677.8m from $632.1m last year. Net earnings in the 13 weeks to 4 May, however, slipped to $9.1m from $17.2m in the prior year quarter. 

Expert analysis

Retail Sales of Clothing, Footwear and Accessories Specialists in China: Market Size, Growth and Forecast to 2021

Retail Sales of Clothing, Footwear and Accessories Specialists in China: Market Size, Growth and Forecast to 2021

Retail Sales of Clothing, Footwear and Accessories Specialists in China: Market Size, Growth and Forecast to 2021 provides detailed historic and forecast statistics on retail sales from 2011 to 2021 t...read more