Scholl Shoes Taps OTB Executive as New Global CEO

Suggesting a continued tilt toward fashion and lifestyle, Scholl Shoes has tapped a seasoned luxury executive as its next global chief executive officer.

Andrea Collesei, who has held senior management positions at Jil Sander and Viktor & Rolf, starts this week as CEO of the Milan-based firm.

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He succeeds Tobias Klaiber, who will move up to the board of directors at Scholl. Klaiber, who spearheaded Scholl’s transformation and relaunch in recent years, also holds the title of managing director at investment firm Aurelius Group, which acquired Scholl in 2014.

“We are excited to welcome Andrea to the Scholl family, which has been expanding rapidly over the last years despite a challenging market environment,” Klaiber said in a statement. “Today we have a strong partner and distribution network, executed amazing projects, and were able to grow healthily in years that see our industry undergoing many transformational changes and challenges.”

Klaiber noted that Collesei joins Scholl at a pivotal moment. “We are building new markets such as Asia and the Middle East, expanding our management team, and launching the spring-summer 2024 season fueled with new designs and technologies,” he commented, mentioning cork and EVA materials among novelties.

Under Klaiber, Scholl launched collaborations with the likes of Y’s by Yohji Yamamoto, Ganni, Eres, Honey Dijon, Issimo and Re/Done; expanded into more than 30 new countries, and restored stability and profitability, according to the company.

Key expansion geographies included Benelux and Scandinavia in Europe, and South Korea and Malaysia in the Asia-Pacific region.

Collesei was most recently general manager at Jil Sander, and before that he was CEO of Viktor & Rolf. Both fashion houses are controlled by Italy’s OTB Group.

Collesei has also headed distribution at OTB’s flagship Diesel brand. He started his career in 1997 as a consultant at Bain & Co. in Milan, ultimately joining Sportswear Lotto Sport as a retail manager in 2006.

In an interview, Klaiber touted Scholl Shoes as a profitable, debt-free company thanks to a brand that combines heritage, comfort and “true functionality.”

“We have laid the foundation for future growth and now Andrea is jumping in to expand beyond where we are today,” he said.

Collesei said job number one would be to continue building the distribution network for the brand, and to ramp up marketing activities to further strengthen the brand positioning.

Styles from Scholl shoes
Styles from Scholl shoes

Scholl recently opened its first freestanding store in South Korea, and it is hunting for real estate for flagships in key European cities, Klaiber said. At present, about three-quarters of its distribution is wholesale, with direct-to-consumer channels like its online store growing 45 percent, he added.

Founded in Chicago in 1899 by William Scholl, the brand’s first design was a wooden-soled sandal designed to tone legs just from walking.

Collesei recalled that the brand’s signature Pescura sandal became an extremely fashionable item in the ’60s, when French actresses wore them to vacation on the French Riviera.

“I’ve always been working with brands that have a very strong heritage, and a very strong perspective on design — bringing them to the next level in terms of size, growth and also international development,” he said. “There is a unique opportunity to develop this strong heritage brand in the fashion world.”

In the consumer space, Aurelius also counts investments in footwear maker FitFlop and retailers French Connection and Footasylum.

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