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Journeys execs on Foot Locker's skate push and more

By Tiffany Montgomery
June 03, 2009 8:00 AM

I'm catching up on the earnings conference call that the parent company of shoe retailer Journeys had last week in which the company discussed the skate shoe market several times.

Skate and vulcanized fashion canvas shoes continue to be a key driver of Journeys business, executives from parent company Genesco said.

The Journeys Group reported a 3 percent increase in same-store sales, which executives partially attributed to its selection of skate shoes not found everywhere else at the mall.

Executives also commented on the potential threat from Foot Locker's expansion into skate.

Here is what Genesco CEO Bob Dennis said about Foot Locker's moves, according to a transcript of the call. Foot Locker has said it wants to add skate to its brick-and-mortar stores. In addition, Foot Locker is currently testing brick-and-mortar stores for its online skate retailer, CCS.

Dennis: "We look at Journeys as a fairly unique concept. It is the only true national fashion footwear chain for the teens so others will nibble around the edges of it. Our customers view of skate is built around some brands with very established positions in the skate world really, that's their roots - and then in comes Nike (which) has done their work in terms of gaining a nice position in that world.

"When we look at the athletic (retailers) looking to get into skate, we don't see them getting the brands that we have that represent the core of what we do and so given the very appealing assortment we can present to our customer, we think we still have a pretty huge competitive advantage in terms of offering that broad assortment. So we're pretty comfortable we are well positioned on a go-forward basis."

Journeys also believes it may be gaining some business from struggling or defunct "mom and pop" skate shops.

Dennis: "And then the mom and pops, it's very hard to quantify because virtually none of them - none of them are public and the reporting on it is pretty thin. It's all very anecdotal but in both the skate space and in the hat space, you hear of a situation here and a situation there where either store doors have closed or there are credit issues and so when we look at our performance in the first quarter and we try to explain it, we are of the belief that that's part of what's going on. And so the strength of our businesses, both 800-plus stores with scale advantages and great awareness among the kids and great relationship with the landlords, we think that's doing the trick and we think we can continue to prevail on that basis."


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