How the Shoe Company in Canada is modernizing ahead of its 70th anniversary

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Designer Brands Inc. is a growing player in the Canadian market, thanks to a long-time retailer partner who is now an integral part of the family.

In 2014, the company acquired a stake in Town Shoes Ltd., the country’s largest multi-brand retailer, which at the time operated The Shoe Company, Town Shoes and Shoe Warehouse chains. The two parties merged in 2018, and today the Designer Brands Canada division operates 27 DSW stores across the country and recently consolidated and converted all of its other retail banners into The Shoe Company, a family-owned chain that now has 117. doors.

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“Our strategy for DSW is to deliver an experience that is absolutely seamless to that of DSW in the United States,” said Mary Turner, Executive Vice President of Designer Brands and President of Designer Brands Canada. “We make sure to work with our partners in the United States to deliver the same experience to our customers. For The Shoe Company, we have the strategy, the vision and the direction, and our strategy is to significantly deepen our connection with our client to ensure that we are the first place she thinks of for family shoes in the Canadian market. “

Mary Turner - Credit: Courtesy of Designer Brands Canada

Mary Turner – Credit: Courtesy of Designer Brands Canada

Courtesy of Designer Brands Canada

Ahead of its 70th anniversary in 2022, The Shoe Company is undergoing a visual refresh that will be completed next year. Turner said the group had “whitewashed” their stores – cleaning them up, removing old signage – to create a cohesive shopping experience and highlight their core strength: “One of our biggest goals was to pass on our incredible portfolio of brands because it is probably one of our best kept secrets, “she said.” We wanted to assure her that we understand her style and you will see it come to fruition. “

While DSW stores average approximately 20,000 square feet, The Shoe Company locations typically measure 5,000 square feet and are found in neighborhood centers and streets.

As a result, the family chain has a smaller assortment than DSW, but lead merchant Nancy Figenshaw said she has something for everyone. “We’re going from athletic to casual to seasonal because we have the whole range,” she said.

The Shoe Company offers many top brands such as Steve Madden, Timberland, Adidas and Vans, although Figenshaw said she sees a strong reaction from customers to internal labels of her sister group Camuto, including Vince Camuto, Jessica Simpson and Lucky. , as well as Crown Vintage, Mix No. 6 and Kelly & Katie.

“It allows us to have more control over the products, allows us to have exclusive products that no one else has and that makes us the destination of these brands,” she said. And The Shoe Company will also soon begin stocking Hush Puppies, as part of the brand’s exclusive distribution deal with Designer Brands.

Two other partnerships are also boosting sales for The Shoe Company. Starting in fall 21, she added Lids stores at 45 locations, to help grow the male share of the business. And Claire’s shop-in-shops have opened their doors at 17 doors. “It really supports our strength in kids really beautifully,” Figenshaw said.

Lid stores have been added to The Shoe Company stores.  - Credit: Courtesy of Designer Brands Canada

Lid stores have been added to The Shoe Company stores. – Credit: Courtesy of Designer Brands Canada

Courtesy of Designer Brands Canada

Meanwhile, Designer Brands Canada is also working behind the scenes to create a positive customer experience both in-store and online. In July, the group migrated its digital operations to the corporate platform. “We now have a set of tech and team development teams that power all the banners on our website,” said Eric Penno, digital manager. “This is a huge benefit for us as we invest more in this platform, with new features, new features and new experiences for our customer. “

Additionally, it has drawn on its long history of in-store fulfillment to help meet growing digital demand. Penno noted that the capacity has been particularly vital throughout the pandemic. “At the height of the COVID outbreak in Canada, when we had a lot of store closures, we already had this distribution model which was very scalable.”

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