Red Wing Shoe Co., the parent of Vasque, reported sales rose 12 percent in its fiscal year ending in November 2010, to $448 million. The figures were given at the privately-held company's shareholder meeting in Red Wing, MN and confirmed by spokesman Peter Engel.
The company also added 315 jobs in 2010, bringing its total employee count to approximately 2,200, Engel confirmed to SpotsOneSource.
The year marked a rebound for Red Wing, which makes shoes and boots under the Irish Setter, Vasque, Carhartt, and WORX. Its biggest line is the Red Wing's line of casual work boots.
In late 2009, it announced plans to close its Kentucky plant, offered early retirement packages, and eliminated a second work shift at its Red Wing plant as part of cost-cutting efforts. The company resumed its second shift and added positions in May 2010, and indicated in August that it would retain its Kentucky facility with a smaller staff.
The company also reiterated that it plans to open 125 new “dealership” stores in the next five years. There are currently about 425 Red Wing Shoe stores, and roughly 70 percent of them are independent dealerships. Red Wing does not collect franchise fees or royalties from store sales but dealers are obligated to sell Red Wing Shoe products.
Speaking to Twin Cities Business, Engel said, “Demand is back, but it's still pretty spotty in the United States.” He noted that the blue collar workforce that comprise Red Wing Shoe's key market are still experiencing high unemployment. But international has been particularly demand for its products, first in Japan and now in Europe. Engel said the company's boots are worn in casual settings by people looking for “authentic American brands.”