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Caleres Continues to Grow Brand Portfolio With Vionic Acquisition

The Missouri-based company behind Famous Footwear has gobbled up another brand for its growing portfolio.

Caleres Inc. last week said it acquired dual-gender shoemaker Vionic in a deal worth $360 million. The brand, which specializes in foot health and was founded by the late podiatrist Philip Vasyli, has grown by 20 percent over the past six years. Additionally, Vionic brought in $180 million in sales for the trailing 12-month period prior to the acquisition, according to Caleres, of which 25 percent occurred online.

Vionic joins the Caleres portfolio of brands, which includes Diane von Furstenberg, Ryka, Dr. Scholl’s Shoes and LifeStride, among others.

In announcing the acquisition, Caleres said attaining the growing brand would elevate its access to the contemporary comfort footwear category and enhance the exposure of its brand portfolio, an understandable ambition for a group that relies on the success of its footwear retail division. Famous Footwear operates over 1,200 stores and regularly outperforms the combined sales of the rest of Caleres’ brand portfolio.

The most recent acquisition is the latest in a long line for the 140-year-old company, which already owns or distributes a dozen brands. In July, Caleres acquired a majority stake in SoCal-inspired footwear brand Blowfish Malibu. In 2016, Caleres bought men’s heritage footwear label, Allen Edmonds, from Brentwood Associates for $255 million.

“The acquisition of Vionic is another fantastic opportunity to add a growing brand—with strong consumer loyalty and a solid cultural fit—to our brand portfolio,” Diane Sullivan, CEO, president and chairman of Caleres, said in the announcement. “The brand has already proven to be a disruptive addition to the industry, as the dynamic Vionic team has blended proprietary technology with comfort and style.”

Not unlike fellow Caleres brand Dr. Scholl’s Shoes, Vionic has its roots in clinical podiatry. The company was started when Vasyli began to craft heat-molded orthotics for his patients, as the story goes. Now, Vionic CEO and co-founder Chris Gallagher sees a bright future for Vionic as part of Caleres.

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“Caleres is a great leader in the industry, and we are excited to join their family of outstanding brands. At Vionic, we challenge ourselves every day to reimagine style and science, in order to bring joy to people’s lives—starting with their feet—and we’re delighted to be joining a company with a similar purpose,” Gallagher said. “We have big plans and even bigger dreams and—with support from Caleres—we’ll be able to continue on that journey, as this combination creates great opportunities for our team members and our retail and business partners.”

Caleres will fund the acquisition through its revolving credit agreement. The company’s most recent sales data, from the second quarter of fiscal 2018, reported consolidated growth of 4.4 percent, to $706.6 million, with a gross profit of $293.1 million. Additional details surrounding the acquisition will be available during its third-quarter earnings call, with an investor event to be held at the Vionic showroom in New York on December 4th.