The Athlete's Foot, which is part of NexCen Brands Inc., saw comparable store sales rise 7% worldwide as a 3.5% drop domestically offset a 16% gain internationally. Despite the weak comps domestically, Bob D'Loren, NexCen's president and CEO, said he didn't see The Athlete's Foot being impacted by the same problems facing Foot Locker.

“We are not a mall-based retailer and given that we are a franchise model where are our local franchisees tend to know their customers extremely well and get their product mix right,” said D'Loren. Still, D'Loren added that the athletic footwear industry is “faced with a conundrum in marketing” to the four lifestyles existing currently: performance, classic athletic, street and extreme sport.

“It is challenging to get that product mix and a consistent brand message about who you are and what you represent to the consumer and vendor partners given this market condition the way it is segmented,” said D'Loren. “However, we believe our new store designs address this in a very exciting way, and we look forward to rolling this out in June and beginning to better address these challenges on a go-forward basis.”

D'Loren also said although some mainstream retailers are struggling to get some of the authentic brands in the street and the extreme sports sides of the business, he believes TAF will be able to because of their attention to merchandising and training.

“We're doing everything possible to provide our vendor partners with the highest level of merchandising and ability to reach our franchisees to train them and get them passionate about their products,” said D'Loren. Nonetheless, he expects the stores' mix will likely remain at about 60% performance product because of their focus on that segment.

At the SGMA Spring Market in Las Vegas in June, The Athlete's Foot plans to roll out to its franchisees and vendor partners its new store designs, a new modular approach to merchandising the four footwear lifestyles, its private-label apparel program, and marketing initiatives.

Overall, NexCen reported licensing, royalty and franchise fee revenues totaled $3.9 million for the first quarter. It also posted a net loss of $198,000, which includes income from discontinued operations of $447,000.

D'Loren said the company continued to integrate its portfolio of brands, and reached a definitive agreement to acquire a home furnishings brand, Waverly, in the quarter. The company reaffirmed revenue guidance for the full year 2007 of between $38 million and $42 million and EPS guidance of 12 cents to 14 cents per fully diluted share.