Genesco Inc.'s management, speaking last week at the C.L. King conference, elaborated on the “very close partnership” it has formed with Nike in pursuing the team business through its new Lids Team Sports division.
Genesco CEO Bob Dennis said that although Nike's Swoosh is noticeably found on many of the top college teams across the nation, its overall team business is fairly limited to the top 100 college teams. Its share in selling team uniforms to colleges, high schools and club teams below those elite colleges is in “the single digits,” according to Dennis.
Added Dennis, “And that's not good for them. Their grassroots marketing, particularly with the emergence of competitors like Under Armour, really requires that they have a bigger grassroots presence with young athletes. So they see us as a great partner in making that happen and we see them as a great partner in the selling proposition to the athletic directors and the coaches. So we're making great progress there. “
With its recent acquisitions of Anaconda Sports in the Northeast and Brand Innovators on the West Coast, Lids Team Sports now has 116 team dealer “roadman” reps covering 43 states. LTS also has the rights to extend to 49 states with Nike. Nike is already committed with another partner for school sales in Texas.
Dennis said Lids Locker Room, its new fan business launched with its acquisition of Sports Fanatics, will benefit from scale by being combined with the Lids headwear chain. He noted that Sports Fanatics and Sports Avenue, a pending acquisition, didn't have a distribution center or replenishment capabilities as well as e-commerce. The business should also benefit from the headwear chain's ability to localize assortments and its in-stock capabilities. For instance, a Lids store in Tennessee will carry 40 to 50 different styles of caps from The University of Tennessee.
Meanwhile, athletic footwear was “down slightly” at Journeys during the summer/BTS period while its casual business was “up very strong.” This bodes well for Journeys, according to Dennis, since a slow down on the athletic side leads to greater price competition against the mall-based athletic doors. As footwear trends among teens becomes more casual, “Journeys becomes a more distinctive store in the mall because there really is no one else doing what we're doing what we're doing,” suggested Dennis.
Dennis also noted that the first three Journey stores in Canada opened to a “very strong response.” The chain now sees “another health spurt of growth linked to opportunities in Canada.”