Only Blend and two other brands of the large BTX Group, which markets a total of 25 brands of apparel, have their own shoe lines for the moment, and they have been developed and marketed by the same teams that take care of the clothing, but this is going to change with the recent establishment of a dedicated subsidiary of the Danish group, called BTX Footwear. Placed under the responsibility of Christian Broe, who is acting as its chief executive, the new company is responsible also for handbags and other accessories.

Founded as a family business in Denmark in 1935, BTX was formerly called Brandtex after its oldest brand, but it was sold at the beginning of 2005 to EQT, a large equity investment fund. After working for ECCO for 15 years, Broe left the position of vice president of marketing last February to join BTX, reporting to another 15-year ECCO veteran, Jan Stig Andersen, who left the big Danish footwear company 11 months ago to run BTX Group as its chief executive shortly after its acquisition. Andersen, who handled international marketing and other important functions at ECCO for many years, headed up its large North American subsidiary before moving back to Denmark on his present assignment.

With annual revenues of only about 150 million Danish kroner (€20.1m-$25.7m), represented mainly by the well-known Blend line, footwear is still only a small part of BTX Group’s total business, which generated sales of 3.28 billion DK (€439.6m-$570.0m) last year, but it is set to grow to at least 200 million DK (€26.8m-$34.2m) within five years’ time. Many new experienced people from the footwear sector have been hired to further develop the group’s shoe collections and to market them more widely around the world, targeting the shoe shops and other retail circuits besides the boutiques and other channels that have been selling also BTX’ apparel. Going hand in hand with the resulting higher quality of the footwear styles, the price range has been expanded, and they remain relatively competitive by world standards.

Created by the former Brandtex eight years ago, the sporty Blend brand of sporty men’s wear was the first one within the group to have launched a complementary footwear collection five and a half years ago. Its success led it to add subsequently a women’s counterpart in apparel and footwear, BlendShe. The same thing took place afterwards with two other lines – 4 You and B-Young.

A new premium line of footwear under the Psycho Cowboy brand name will be presented by the BTX Footwear group for the first time by the group at the GDS fair in Düsseldorf and at MICAM in Milan this month, featuring 30 women’s models and 20 men’s styles at relatively high price points for the burgeoning luxury segment of the international denim and casualwear market.

Born in the Latin Quarter of Copenhagen and purchased by BTX only recently, Psycho Cowboy is the lastest label to have joined its large stable of clothing brands. The shoe line will be very focused, but the management has big hopes in this new entry. Other group brands may follow at a later stage.

Meanwhile BTX is trying to widen the international distribution of its footwear lines, which are now sold in about 40 different countries, often together with the apparel. They are enjoying particularly strong growth in Eastern Europe, but some Southern European countries are not yet covered and the group is in the process of setting up a distribution structure in North America.