In hopes to revive the firm, Phoenix Footwear Group’s board has named Cathy B. Taylor as its new chief executive. She was previously president and chief executive of the Cole Haan division at Nike, and had been working with Phoenix on a consultancy basis for five months prior to being appointed. She replaces James Riedman, who was serving as interim chief executive of the company and who will remain as chairman. Taylor, who has also been chief executive at Wenger North America and Vivre, is credited with inventing the NikeTown concept.
Phoenix Footwear’s net sales grew by 4.3 percent to $42.1 million in the 1st quarter, as strong growth for the Altama and Chambers belt brands was offset by large declines for the Tommy Bahama, H.S. Trask and Royal Robbins labels. Turnover for Altama, Phoenix’ brand of military boots, rose by 54 percent to $11.1 million, but they are expected to go down in the 2nd quarter because of the expiration of a contract with the U.S. Department of Defense.
Robbins’ sales dropped by 10 percent to $10.1 million in the latest quarter, mainly because it lost two large customers. Tommy Bahama’s turnover fell by 47 percent to $2.3 million, although sell-through’s are said to be strong after the brand’s repositioning. Sales of the H.S. Trask brand, which is being restructured, declined by 49 percent to $1.2 million. SoftWalk’s turnover dipped by 9 percent to $3.0 million. Turnover form the Trotters brand grew by 2 percent to $4.4 million, while Chambers’ sales rose by 28 percent to $9.9 million.
The group’s gross margin in the 1st quarter fell by 3.4 percentage points to 35.5 percent, mainly due to a higher concentration of military boots and accessories, which carry lower margins than Phoenix’ other products. Net income dropped to $414,000, as compared to $3 million in the year-ago period.