Vans President Kevin Bailey and I had a productive meeting on Thursday to talk about the topics we will discuss during the Shop-eat-surf Executive Roundtable on July 29 at The Shorebreak Hotel in Huntington Beach.
I’m really excited about the content of the program. Kevin has experience both inside and outside the industry – his career path includes a leadership position at Lucky Brand, an 8-year-stay at Nike, and early training at American Eagle and Banana Republic. He also previously headed Vans Retail for five years. He was named Vans President in 2009.
Vans is now a major player in the industry, having joined the elite club of action sports brands that has reached $1 billion in annual revenue. The brand is a top performer for parent company VF Corp., which has upped its investment in Vans to support its growth in the past few years.
In addition to being knowledgeable, Kevin’s down to earth and a straight talker, a winning combination for a live discussion about Vans and the industry at large.
Issues Kevin and I will talk about include:
- Vans very nuanced segmentation strategy, one of the most comprehensive in the industry. Vans sells everyone from JC Penney to the coolest skate boutiques. Kevin will talk about how the brand approaches that complicated task.
- The company’s evolving retail strategy. Vans operates more than 250 stores in the U.S. and many more around the globe – and it’s not a vanity exercise. The retail division is quite profitable. Kevin, who comes from a retail background, has some interesting information to share about the company’s retail approach and strategy.
- Why and how Vans is investing in the digital future, and how it has grown its Facebook friends by 1 million in six months.
- The interesting and comprehensive way the company is expanding its presence in the U.S. beyond the West Coast, including its recent focus on the East Coast. I was intrigued to hear the multiple examples of how the brand is raising its presence in the greater New York region, details about the thinking behind the approach and how it is measuring success.
- I’ll ask Kevin what he thinks of the potential for the industry to become dominated by big brands backed by big companies and if he thinks there is a role for small players.
- The apparel opportunity for Vans. Can it really become a player in apparel? I’ll ask Kevin what he thinks the opportunity is there and if the brand is making headway.
- Was Vans late to the suddenly crowded hanging shoe category? We’ll ask Kevin about that, and his reponse to claims that Vans is "me too" in this area.
- Kevin’s take on athletic companies entering the industry, what it’s like to compete with them, and his insight into them after working at Nike.
- Kevin will also share some insight about what it’s like to be part of a larger company from outside the industry, something other brands such as Volcom and Sanuk are now experiencing.
- His management style. I’ve seen Kevin interacting with all level of employees before, in a genuine and attentive way that stood out. I’ll ask him how he manages employees and why he doesn’t think you need to be a jerk to be an effective leader.
To join us for our live discussion, and to ask Kevin your own questions during the audience Q & A period, sign up soon for the event while general registration is still open. Here’s a link to the registration page.