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Caleres Expands into Greater China in New Joint Venture

Caleres and Shanghai-based Brand Investment Holding, Ltd. have entered into a new joint venture that will give the American footwear company an entrance into Greater China, including Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.

The arrangement will give Brand Investment Holding, Ltd., a member of the Gemkell Group—a luxury retail group that distributes brands like Balenciaga, Givenchy, Lacoste and Marc Jacobs in Eastern Asia—the authority to distribute Caleres products in the region.

The venture will be officially underway when Caleres brands, Naturalizer and Sam Edelman, begin to offer their products online this summer. The group said both lines will also be sold through branded retail stores, and it currently has plans to open six new stores in key cities throughout Greater China.

“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,” Diane Sullivan, CEO, president and chairman of Caleres said in a statement. “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.”

Naturalizer’s first physical location in Eastern Asia will open its doors later in the summer in Beijing, according to Caleres, followed by a Sam Edelman store in Shanghai. There is no indication yet regarding the expansion of other Caleres brands into the area, like Allen Edmonds, Vionic, Dr. Scholl’s and its Famous Footwear retail arm. However, the company did say additional stores are in the works for other markets as its presence in China expands.

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Kwan Heh-Der, the CEO of Brand Investment Holding, Ltd. and the previous head of Pousheng International—one of the largest retailers in the Chinese sportswear industry—will be leading the effort to expand Caleres into China. Heh-Der said the venture with Caleres will be a natural fit for both groups.

“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,” Kwan Heh-Der explained. “Caleres’ 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 may be looking to boost its revenue by expanding into new regions after its stock fell by more than 10 percent in March when it reported lower-than-expected sales in FY18, despite solid performances by both Famous Footwear and Sam Edelman. At the time, the group’s CEO said the company would be looking to “expand our market share gains with strong organic growth” in the coming months.