The Athlete’s Foot (TAF) has officially announced Matt Lafone as its new president and general manager of Americas. The veteran retail executive will start immediately, managing operations in North, South and Central America, and will report directly to the company’s new owner and global executive chairman, Param Singh.
As president and general manager, Lafone will be responsible for providing leadership, strategic and operational guidance to the Americas’ team to drive profitable growth, build brand equity and enhance customer satisfaction.
This is in support of the company’s strategic vision set by Singh that builds on the success the brand has shown in recent years. Globally, TAF retail sales are on target to hit $500 million in 2021 and the company has seen growth above 40 percent in the first six months of 2021 versus 2020 and 14 percent above sales in 2019.
Prior to TAF, Lafone was chief operating officer for Payless ShoeSource overseeing design, development, supply chain, marketing, and franchising for its 750 international stores. Prior to Payless, he was the vice president of sport style for Puma driving its wholesale revenue and leading sales, planning, marketing, and merchandising strategies.
“Matt is well known in the industry as a fantastic leader, execution-focused operator and transparent communicator. He’s also perfectly aligned with the values of our organization and firmly committed to the future success of the company,” said Singh, whose company, Arklyz Group, acquired The Athlete’s Foot in July after a long-term partnership with TAF’s previous parent company, Intersport.
Singh added: “While The Athlete’s Foot is without a doubt a global company, the U.S. and the Americas are critical to our foundation and our future, and I am confident that with Matt’s leadership we can continue to grow this well-respected legacy brand into a global powerhouse.”
Lafone joins TAF as it prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary, celebrated globally starting this month, and highlighted by commemorative product launches, events and an anniversary documentary.
TAF USA, now known as TAF Americas, also recently launched the SAART program, which stands for the Strategic African American Retail Track, an initiative aimed to grow diversity and representation in the sneaker industry through franchising.
Photo courtesy Matt Lafone