DSW Parent Designer Brands Acquires Keds
Designer Brands, the Columbus, Ohio-based parent company of DSW, has acquired canvas shoe brand Keds, furthering its foothold in casual and athleisure footwear. Acquired from Rockford, Michigan-based footwear manufacturer Wolverine Worldwide, the brand was founded in 1916 as the first mass-marketed canvas-top sneaker. The acquisition of Keds includes all Keds' products, including its athletic line, Pro-Keds, and its e-commerce business. The move is part of the Designer Brands' owned brands strategy as the company seeks to double sales of its owned brands by 2026. Designer Brands also recently acquired Le Tigre and Topo Athletic brands and is finalizing an agreement to become the exclusive licensee for Wolverine Worldwide's Hush Puppies brand across all channels in the U.S. and Canada.
Total Retail's Take: This move aligns with Designer Brands' overarching strategy to increase sales of its owned brands, and in the process become less reliant on wholesale deals with companies such as Nike, which announced that it would stop selling its sneakers in DSW stores. As brands increasingly look to sell their products direct to consumer, eliminating the middleman to increase margins and collect valuable customer data, retailers such as DSW are left to find new ways to maintain sales. For Designer Brands, its strategy has been to turn to acquisitions to expand its owned brand portfolio, enabling it sell product across its expansive store network as well as the individual brands' e-commerce sites. Furthermore, Designer Brands has made a concerted effort to grow its product offerings in the athleisure category, which it had identified as a white space opportunity. The acquisition of Keds checks that box as well.
Joe Keenan is the executive editor of Total Retail. Joe has more than 10 years experience covering the retail industry, and enjoys profiling innovative companies and people in the space.