Skechers USA is celebrating yesterday's victory of its star endorsing athlete, Meb Keflezighi, in the Boston Marathon. He was wearning the brand's new GOmed Speed 3 running shoes, the 38-year-old broke his personal record with a time of 2:08:37. No other American runner had won the Boston Marathon since 1985.
The victory is a further boost for Skechers' Performance Division, which has been a strong engine of its growth recently. In Europe, while its sports shoes represent less than 20 percent of the company's sales, they are gaining more shelf space at large retail chains such as Décathlon, Sports Direct, Go Sport and Hervis, according to executives of the company.
Skechers is investing heavily in new stores, logistics and other value-added services to support its growth in Europe and other international markets. At the Micam shoe show in Milan, where the company continues to have a strong presence, executives of Skechers told us that the company's direct sales in Europe are expected to reach a target of around $150 million this year, up from $150 million in 2013. The company sells directly to retailers through its subsidiaries in the U.K., France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands.
Further growth is expected in Europe after the planned upgrading of the company's European distribution center in Belgium, which should be completed by the end of this year. The facility has a capacity to store up to 3.5 million pairs, and its automation will allow it to handle up to 7,000 pairs per hour.
In the European countries where it has subsidiaries, Skechers is gaining additional shelf space at major retail accounts. There are more than 30 company-owned or franchised single-brand stores in those countries, and Skechers is actively looking for the right locations to open more of them.
Globally, the brand is focusing more intensely on the opening of more stores, directly or through franchisees. It has a goal of to reach 1,000 doors by the end of this year, and this should help Skechers to achieve a turnover of at least €2 billion, up from $1,846 million in 2013.
The company wants to open more stores in Japan, where the brand took over last year its three local single-brand stores from its former distributor. It has opened a fourth one on its own. The new Japanese subsidiary has just started to develop a wholesale business.
The company opened its first stores in Brazil and Turkey last year, as previously reported, acting through a franchisee and a distributor, respectively. However, Skechers's business in the protected Brazilian market remains lower than in Chile, where it is projecting a volume of two million pairs for this year.
Meanwhile, its Indian partner has raised the number of Skechers stores from 8 to 25. Its joint venture partner in China has been opening many stores, and more of those and franchises are in the pipeline for this year.