Designer Brands Bets on Men’s for Future Growth, Will Relaunch Nike at DSW Stores in Coming Weeks

Designer Brands Inc. (DBI) is looking to its men’s business for future growth opportunities.

On the Columbus, Ohio-based footwear company’s second quarter earnings call on Thursday, DBI CEO Doug Howe told analysts that growing its men’s business across the company remains one of its “largest white space opportunities” and represents a “significant growth lever” over the long term.

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“We believe that our new offerings from Vince Camuto and Le Tigre will help us gain traction with male customers that are increasingly prioritizing the unification of comfort and style,” Howe said in today’s call. “Our continued success was evident in our Q2 results, where we saw Vince Camuto men’s sales up 95 percent in dot-com.”

Howe cited the successful launch of Vince Camuto’s new men’s Fly360 hybrid shoe in July as one of the reasons for the brand’s jump in sales online. “As we build out this franchise, what sets this line apart from the rest of the path is the use of special technologies and production, not often found in non-athletic men’s shoes,” the CEO said.

DBI’s expanded deal with Hush Puppies is also expected to help with the company’s men’s business. Howe said on today’s call that Hush Puppies’ growth within DSW has been “robust,” up nearly 60 percent in the quarter versus last year, driven by men’s, with gains across casual, dress and boots.

The company, which recently acquired the license for the Hush Puppies brand in the U.S. and Canada as part of its acquisition of Keds from Wolverine Worldwide, said its first product offering under this new license will drop in spring 2024.

Howe added that DBI also executed an “advantageous buy” as part of its long-term relationship with Wolverine that provided the company an opportunity to offer “compelling savings” to its customers on Sperry, Saucony, Merrell and Chaco products in the quarter.

As for the company’s renewed Nike relationship, Howe said he’s “very optimistic” about the rollout that will bring a variety of men’s, women’s and kids’ athletic footwear products to DSW.

“We actually are going to be delivering the product a little bit earlier than we originally anticipated, about a month earlier,” Howe said. “We have some products that they run on our site, and we’ll have a significant amount of units rolling out to our stores in the next couple of weeks. So we feel good about that.”

Net sales for the DSW-parent company decreased 7.8 percent to $792.2 million in the second quarter, ahead of analysts’ expectations of $785.7 million, according to Yahoo Finance. Comparable sales decreased by 8.9 percent and adjusted net income was $39.4 million, with an adjusted diluted EPS of 59 cents, which also beat analysts’ expectations of 44 cents.

DBI maintained its full-year 2023 outlook and expects net sales growth, excluding contributions from Keds, to be down in the mid- to high-single digits for the year. Diluted EPS is expected in the range of $1.20 to $1.50.

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