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Crocs boasts new styles, like toning, for comeback

By Emily Fredrix
AP Retail Writer / September 29, 2010

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NEW YORK—Crocs Inc. says dozens of new styles, including toning shoes and tennis shoes, and higher price points will help the maker of colorful plastic shoes continue broadening its business, away from its trademark clogs.

CEO John McCarvel told analysts on Wednesday that the company now has 250 different styles, up from about two dozen just a few years ago.

These new styles allow the company to move past the fad-mentality for its quirky, colorful clog shoes, find new customers and expand into new markets, he said during a meeting at the company's store in New York's SoHo neighborhood.

The company has been reinventing itself with a new advertising campaign launched this spring focusing on comfort. It's also boasting new styles such as loafers, flats and heels made out of everything from leather to canvas to differ from its traditional clogs.

The company grew quickly after its clogs came on the scene in 2002. Revenue reached $355 million in 2006, the year the company went public, and then a year later revenue more than doubled to $847.4 million.

But the Niwot, Colo., company tripped when the fad for its quirky clogs faded and knockoffs stole sales. Since then, Crocs has been turning its business around by expanding into new countries, including China and Russia, and broadening its product line past its trademark clogs.

Last year, the company reported a loss of $42.1 million and a 10.5 percent drop in revenue to $645.8 million. That was an improvement over the company's loss of $185.1 million the prior year.

In August, Crocs returned to a second-quarter profit as sales improved both in stores and online. It predicted third-quarter results above expectations as it rolls out its new products. It's also expanding its number of stores to 400 this year from 320 last year.

Investors have taken notice. Shares ended 2008 at $1.24, and a year later were up to $5.75. They're now worth more than double that and in afternoon trading were down just 5 cents to $12.92.

Next month, the company will launch new toning shoes. The trend has been gaining traction as major shoemakers Skechers, New Balance, and Reebok produce toning shoes. Those shoes are primarily sneakers, but Crocs' toning shoes will include flip flops, flats and some that look like its original clogs, the company said.

"We like to say our toning shoes aren't the ugliest toning shoes on the market today," McCarvel quipped.

The shoes will sell for about $45 to $55, and new leather and canvas sneakers will sell for between $49 and $59. Typically, the traditional clogs have sold for about $30. Customers are buying shoes at the higher prices, which will improve margins, executives said.

The back-to-school season has gone well so far, executives said, adding that children ages 6 to about 14 are the brand's most loyal customers. Upcoming spring and summer styles include translucent sling backs, flats and sandals, some even in leopard print.

The company said the clog is still part of its heritage and makes up about 20 percent of sales, but that number will be going down as it rolls out new styles.