Foot Locker, Inc. celebrated its 100-year anniversary as a publicly listed company on the New York Stock Exchange. The company, whose roots date back to the legendary retailer, F.W. Woolworth, commemorated its centennial listing on the Exchange by having its CEO, Ken Hicks, ring the closing bell on Tuesday, June 26. Foot Locker is the first retailer and one of only 22 companies to achieve this milestone since the founding of the NYSE in 1817.
A Tremendous Milestone
Hicks said, “Today marks a tremendous milestone for Foot Locker, our shareholders, employees and the communities that we serve. While our Company has changed dramatically over the past century, the core values that Mr. Woolworth instilled in the company and its employees, to treat our customers with respect, provide them with quality merchandise at a fair price, and always act with honesty and integrity, are alive and well at Foot Locker today.”
An Illustrious Past, An Exciting Future
Hicks added, “There is no doubt that Frank Woolworth, a retail visionary, would be proud that his business and his beliefs continue to thrive. Today, we have 38,000 employees working in 3,360 retail locations in 23 countries around the world. I am pleased to note that despite the macroeconomic challenges that we are all facing, our business is on a strong trajectory and we are positioned for continued growth. The credit goes to the talent of our team, the exciting brands and products we offer across our brand banners, and the multichannel experience we deliver. An illustrious legacy like ours is a true responsibility, and we look forward to continuing to innovate and create value for our shareholders now and into the future.”
A Legacy of Leadership in Retail
Frank Winfield Woolworth opened the original “five-and-dime” store in 1879. It was one of the first companies to allow customers to handle and select merchandise without a sales clerk. The pricing and experience proved a success. By 1912, there were nearly 600 Woolworth’s stores around the United States and Canada. That year, F.W Woolworth Co. had its initial public offering on the NYSE. The proceeds were used primarily to fund the construction of the historic Woolworth Building in New York, designed by the architect Cass Gilbert. It was the tallest building in the world until 1930 and remains one of the tallest skyscrapers in the City today.
In 1963, F.W. Woolworth Company purchased the Kinney Shoe Corporation, which ultimately branched into specialty shoe stores, including Foot Locker in 1974. By Woolworth’s 100th anniversary, it had become the largest department store chain in the world, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Over time, the Foot Locker brand expanded to include Lady Foot Locker and Kids Foot Locker. The Company subsequently acquired Champs Sports in the late 1980s and Eastbay in 1997. In the late 1990s, Woolworth closed its department store business in order to focus primarily on athletic goods. In 1997, it was renamed Venator and subsequently in 2001, the Company adopted the name of its global banner, Foot Locker. The core business has continued to grow and has added the Footaction USA and CCS banners as well. The Company is today one of the largest specialty athletic retailers in the world.