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Cole Haan Files for $100 Million IPO

Cole Haan is headed to the public markets with an initial public offering.

The footwear and accessories brand had applied for an IPO with regulatory authorities back in October through a confidential filing. The filing said the shares will be listed on the Nasdaq market, and will trade under the symbol “CLHN.”

Cole Haan will not receive any proceeds from the IPO as the publicly-listed shares will be from selling stockholders. The amount the company could raise wasn’t immediately clear, and the $100 million listed is likely used as a placeholder for going public as the company must first complete a review process with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Once the review process is completed, there will be a better sense of both the size of the offering and its timing. And as market conditions change, there’s also a chance the planned IPO could be put on hold.

In the latest SEC report, Cole Haan reported a profit spike of 43.4 percent to $33.1 million for the year ended June 1, 2019, on a revenue gain of 14.1 percent to $686.6 million. The brand has more than 360 stores and 450 wholesale accounts across 64 countries. In addition, the company boasts over 400 patents either issued or pending.

In recent years, Cole Haan has shifted from primarily dress shoes to include casual footwear, and it has built a reputation for using technology to re-engineer its products. While the tech focus centers around designing comfort and function, the brand has been known for its ability to balance that with fashion. Waterproof premium leathers, a rubberized perimeter layer to protect high-wear areas, an anatomically-engineered footbed, and three tiers of responsive cushioning are among Cole Haan’s footwear innovations.

As for its sourcing and supply chain, less than 15 percent of Cole Haan’s footwear and handbag products are made in China, and that the company intends to lower that percentage over time.

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“We have modernized our manufacturing base with leading sourcing, development, commercialization and manufacturing capabilities, focusing on Vietnam and India as primary countries of origin,” the company noted. “We have streamlined our product development process to allow us to introduce new products to the marketplace more quickly and on complementary development calendars. Our typical go-to-market process takes 12 to 15 months. Our most rapid internal development process, which we call ‘Quick Strike,’ enables us to address new opportunities emerging in the marketplace within 90 days from consumer insight to product introduction.”

The timing for an IPO appears right based on where the business is now in its growth trajectory.

“Cole Haan has staged a significant turnaround over the past several years, and has become a rare growth story among private equity-owned apparel and footwear retailers,” Moody’s vice president and senior analyst Raya Sokolyanska, said. “What has differentiated the company in this challenging space is its ability to reinvigorate an established brand with product innovation and digital marketing. Its pivot towards casual and athletic styles enabled it to attract a younger consumer and benefit from the casualization trend.”

Nike sold Cole Haan, which was founded back in 1928 by Trafton Cole and Eddie Haan, to private equity firm Apax Partners in 2013 for $570 million.

Other fashion companies planning IPOs this year include Madewell and the Neiman Marcus online luxury platform MyTheresa, which is believed to be eyeing the public market by mid-year with a listing on the New York Stock Exchange.

The last time any major footwear firm completed an IPO was back in 2006 by Crocs and Heelys.