Steve Madden at Goldman Sachs Retail Conference Notes

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This post is part of a series of posts called “Company Notes.” These posts contain quotes and exhibits from earnings calls, conference presentations, analyst days and SEC filings. The quotes are generally pieces of information that I find interesting or helpful to understanding the company, industry or economy and are not meant to provide summaries of the full content of the call. Other posts in this series can be found by clicking here. Full transcripts can be found at Seeking Alpha.

“We’re essentially expecting the back half to be similar to what we saw in the first half. And frankly that’s a somewhat challenged environment.”

“I think that the very first thing is that I do expect the international portion of the business to become much more meaningful part of the mix. Right now we’re only at about 8% of sales done outside the U.S.”

“Second to that, we have been growing our accessories business faster than the shoes. That’s sort of high-teens as a percentage of sales right now, and I think you could see that tick up over the next couple of years, particularly as we grow the handbag business, where we have very nice momentum. And then, third, I think the direct-to-consumer piece will become a little bit bigger part of the mix, both as we go to the outlet stores, we talked about and also our online business”

“within that we do believe that the higher-end is holding up a little better than the lower-end. We think that the traffic it seems to get better as you go up to the value chain or the price chain. I mean I think that frankly makes sense, when you look at what’s happening with the stock market with housing”

“We have seen labor cost going up in China of course. However, our overall cost of goods out of China, that inflation has been fairly benign as well. And I think that, frankly, the global demand environment still remains somewhat weak and these factories are hunger for business that we’ve been able to keep the prices in check.”

“In terms of sourcing, I think the big thing that we’re doing is we are moving a lot more to Mexico, about half of our Steve Madden branded production for fall will be coming out of Mexico.”

“Not only has Mexico gotten more competitive with China in terms of price, they have real expertise with the boots and the booties, particularly the more rug and distressed looks. And perhaps more importantly there is a real speed advantage. And that’s so crucial for us. ”

“You certainly recognized that these retailers probably don’t want one vendor to have half their department. And we have certain event, we have certain retailers rather where we do already makeup about a third of their department.”

“We’re looking for additional brands to add in the portfolio and it would be things that we think fit i.e., live well with Steve Madden and aren’t cannibalistic to Steve Madden. There are certain brands that we see out there for instance that our direct competitors at Steve Madden that we believe if we bought them, we think one plus one would be 1.6, because Nordstrom or Macy’s, et cetera, wouldn’t want to have all their eggs in one basket.”

“I think that’s one of the things that we’ve al been — I mean maybe somebody wasn’t surprised about it, but people are surprised about it, how strong of the category shoes is online. I think that there was maybe a decade ago, you would have thought no, shoes won’t be great, you want to try them on, you want to walk around, so you tell in the end, but that was certainly proved that wrong.

And I think the lot of that has to do with their free shipping, free return model.”

“it’s not just the sheer play guys like Zappos and Amazon. It’s also the online, the e-commerce side of the traditional retailers. So Nordstrom back on, Macy’s back on, those guys are growing very, very rapidly for us. And we think that’s going to continue.”

“ is a real important part of our strategy as well. It’s become increasingly competitive though. I will say it’s become a challenge as everybody has gotten so aggressive including Nordstrom and Macy’s and everybody else.”

“it’s a challenge — it’s been a challenging model that single-branded, small footprint shoes store I think and we’ll name all the names, if they’re listening, but we can probably think of them. And a lot of guys had to close a lot of stores. And it hasn’t been successful — it has been more successful in outlets, but it’s challenging and it’s very challenging for us too.”