Even without the extra turnover stemming from its recent acquisition of Bennett Footwear, Brown Shoe Company would have had a solid 3rd quarter. In this period, which ended on Oct. 29, the company posted a 20.0 percent increase in consolidated net sales to $617.7 million, as compared to $514.8 million. Bennett, which consists of the Via Spiga, Franco Sarto, Etienne Aigner and Nickels Soft brands, contributed sales of $67 million in the quarter. Brown has now raised its guidance for the full year, estimating that its full year sales will reach $2.3 billion.

Bennett made a positive contribution also to the group’s net income, which rose by 6.5 percent to $19.8 million, exceeding projections. In fact, the operating profit of Brown Shoe’s wholesale activities grew by 85 percent to $19.2 million on 52.3 percent higher revenues of $226.5 million, but without Bennett they would have risen by only 30 percent. Generally, the group’s wholesale business has become more agile, thanks to better deliveries and leaner inventories.

Results have also improved in Brown Shoe’s retail segment. For the Famous Footwear chain, which now has 943 stores in the USA, sales grew by 5.3 percent to $328.1 million, marking a record high for the 3rd quarter, despite a slump in the back-to-school business. Its operating earnings were also its highest ever for the period, rising by 7.3 percent to $26.2 million. Same-store sales were up by 2.1 percent. The chain had 20 more doors than last year.

In the company’s specialty retail division, which includes 381 stores under the Naturalizer, F.X. LaSalle and Via Spiga names, as well as the e-commerce Shoes.com operation, sales increased by 16.0 percent to $63.2 million. On the other hand, the results took a further dive. The division posted an operating loss of $6,993,000, up sharply from $1,644,000 in the year-ago quarter, but the loss included charges of $5.2 million related to the shutdown of underperforming Naturalizer stores and the consolidation of its Canadian operations. Brown Shoe has shut down 29 stores so far this year under this program. Another 11 are in the process of being wound down and the company is on track to close a total of 57 more Naturalizer locations by the end of the 4th quarter.