Brown Shoe Co. reported fourth-quarter operating profit at the Famous Footwear chain jumped 49.2% to $22.5 million. Revenues grew 13% to $320.9 million on a 2.9% comp gain. Famous Footwears bottom line was helped by an increase in regular-priced sales as gross margins improved 110 basis points.
By category, athletics was up 1.7%, led by Nike, Asics and skate. Womens continued its momentum with a 4.3% gain, paced by Skechers in the junior casual area. Mens was up 2.9% on strength in dress. Kids was up 6.5%. Joe Wood, president of the Famous Footwear division, told analysts the strength in kids is “a direct reflection of our successful positioning against our trend-current female consumer, thus capturing her children's share of wallet.”
Overall, Wood believes Footwear Footwears record year reflects the chains success in identifying key trends and vendors in the marketplace, backed by a strong inventory commitment, relevant in-store messaging, and a greater emphasis on radio advertising over print and circular.
Company-wide, Browns fourth quarter net income rose 1.6% to $13.6 million, or 46 cents a share. In the year-ago quarter, it earned $13.4 million, or 47 cents a share. Net sales increased 6.6% to $639.3 million, led by Famous Footwear and the Naturalizer, LifeStride and Dr. Scholls brands in its wholesale segment.