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Justin boots - goes International!

By Rob Robertson rrobertson@bizpress.net
Reporter

Justin Brands has announced plans to expand into new global territories, with new sales and distribution infrastructure geared to answer international interest and demand.

By Rob Robertson rrobertson@bizpress.net

Reporter

Justin Brands has announced plans to expand into new global territories, with new sales and distribution infrastructure geared to answer international interest and demand.

 

click image to enlarge

Justin Brands executives Randy Watson, Herb Beckwith and Jamie Morgan. The footwear manufacturer is making a global push in 2012.

Photo by Glen E. Ellman

What makes this effort different for the Fort Worth-based footwear company is the push for a much stronger retail presence, backed by a sales force being established worldwide and a robust distribution and logistics plan for each new market.

“We have received a great deal of interest in our products from international partners, so we’ve focused on meeting those opportunities and creating solutions that meet their customer needs,” said Herb Beckwith, Justin Brands’ CFO and head of international operations. “We are setting up systems based on what’s worked well for us, our retailers and our end consumers here in the United States, to successfully and efficiently carry our brands into new global regions.”

Beckwith said there had always been a desire to extend the company’s retail presence beyond the United States, but it wasn’t until last spring that the decision was made to move forward with a plan.

Though he would not give specific numbers, Beckwith said Justin’s sales in Canada were up 37 percent year-over-year from 2010 to 2011, with the biggest gains coming in the fourth quarter. Total international sales for the company were up 47 percent in 2011 from the year before. Customers have been able to buy any of Justin’s five Western boot brands internationally for years via the Internet.

Domestic sales were up 11.4 percent in the same time period.

“Let’s just say that was enough to move the needle here,” he said.

In terms of expansion, Canada will come first, then Central and South America and later Australia. The company is also developing stronger markets in Asia that will get more attention after the Western markets are better established, and finally Europe – though much may depend on how the current European debt crisis plays out, Beckwith said.

The expansion also includes the immediate addition of four new members to the company’s international sales force that will help establish and maintain relationships with distributors in their own markets.

Northern exposure

Justin already has a foothold in Canada, with a warehouse in Calgary that went into operation in October.

Sales team members are already on the ground in Canada – a market that Beckwith says shares many of the same characteristics, tastes and expectations as the United States, making it a natural jumping-off point.

“Western Canada – Alberta and British Columbia – is more of a traditional Western boot market,” he said. “As you move east to Manitoba and Ontario the market shifts to a combination of Western and equestrian. Going further east, tastes move further from utility to more of a market about lifestyle.”

Though all of the company’s brands will be marketed there, Canada’s biggest attraction may be its healthy demand for work boots. Justin’s work boot brand, Justin Original Workboots, has already had some success there, Beckwith said.

“We just see this as a great opportunity in Canada and we’re going to go up there and see what we can do with it,” Beckwith said. “Justin is already well known in places like Calgary. We’ve just never brought the services up there like we’re going to now.”

Way down South and beyond

Central and South American markets are also growing – sales have doubled in the markets that Justin has targeted there – and will be a key part of the company’s new sales and service initiatives, Beckwith said.

Western-style and work boots split the bulk of sales in the Latin American markets. Just like in the United States, each brand has its own particular, and devoted, following that the sales force can leverage.

Nocona, for example – the brand most famous for its iconic 70s posters – has developed an extremely loyal following in Venezuela that has kept the boots popular there for decades. 

“Nocona is one of our smaller divisions but it has a real following in Venezuela,” Beckwith said. “We’ve been shipping them there for 30 years.”

Retailers are already in Australia, too, where demand for Western and equestrian styles are most prevalent, said Lisa Lankes, Justin’s head of communications, licensing and social media. Having people on the ground helps keep doing business so far away from home less expensive for the company and for consumers, she said.

“Our products are primarily sold there through middle men who mark up prices before they reach the consumer,” she said. “We think there is a whole lot of opportunity in Australia because, based on the model we’re establishing in Canada, we think we can work around that.”

Beckwith said a warehouse will likely be established in Australia later this year.

Challenges remain

One ongoing challenge regardless of market is getting the word out, Lankes said.

Lankes’ team must determine the right path through which Justin’s many brands will reach the eyes and ears of potential customers in places where the culture may be as different as the language.

“In a lot of ways this is a start-up type of operation,” she said. “We have a lot of products that work, but certain countries will demand different things.”

“Beyond logistics are cultural issues that you really need to be cognizant of,” added Beckwith. “You may need to add a little twist here and there to reach new markets.”

Lankes said the company already offers different takes on some styles that reflect the peculiar demands of certain markets. The company’s Chippewa brand, for example, is popular in Japan with white crepe rubber outsoles.

“It’s just little things like that that you have to be able to do,” she said. “It’s still Chippewa, it’s still our brand, and it still works.”

Justin Brands has been a Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary since 2000. It manufactures and markets boots under the Tony Lama, Justin Boots, Nocona Boots, Chippewa Boots and Justin Original Workboots brands. The company also makes and markets work, safety and sports footwear.

click image to enlarge

Justin Brands executives Randy Watson, Herb Beckwith and Jamie Morgan. The footwear manufacturer is making a global push in 2012.

Photo by Glen E. Ellman

What makes this effort different for the Fort Worth-based footwear company is the push for a much stronger retail presence, backed by a sales force being established worldwide and a robust distribution and logistics plan for each new market.

“We have received a great deal of interest in our products from international partners, so we’ve focused on meeting those opportunities and creating solutions that meet their customer needs,” said Herb Beckwith, Justin Brands’ CFO and head of international operations. “We are setting up systems based on what’s worked well for us, our retailers and our end consumers here in the United States, to successfully and efficiently carry our brands into new global regions.”

Beckwith said there had always been a desire to extend the company’s retail presence beyond the United States, but it wasn’t until last spring that the decision was made to move forward with a plan.

Though he would not give specific numbers, Beckwith said Justin’s sales in Canada were up 37 percent year-over-year from 2010 to 2011, with the biggest gains coming in the fourth quarter. Total international sales for the company were up 47 percent in 2011 from the year before. Customers have been able to buy any of Justin’s five Western boot brands internationally for years via the Internet.

Domestic sales were up 11.4 percent in the same time period.

“Let’s just say that was enough to move the needle here,” he said.

In terms of expansion, Canada will come first, then Central and South America and later Australia. The company is also developing stronger markets in Asia that will get more attention after the Western markets are better established, and finally Europe – though much may depend on how the current European debt crisis plays out, Beckwith said.

The expansion also includes the immediate addition of four new members to the company’s international sales force that will help establish and maintain relationships with distributors in their own markets.

Northern exposure
Justin already has a foothold in Canada, with a warehouse in Calgary that went into operation in October.

Sales team members are already on the ground in Canada – a market that Beckwith says shares many of the same characteristics, tastes and expectations as the United States, making it a natural jumping-off point.

“Western Canada – Alberta and British Columbia – is more of a traditional Western boot market,” he said. “As you move east to Manitoba and Ontario the market shifts to a combination of Western and equestrian. Going further east, tastes move further from utility to more of a market about lifestyle.”

Though all of the company’s brands will be marketed there, Canada’s biggest attraction may be its healthy demand for work boots. Justin’s work boot brand, Justin Original Workboots, has already had some success there, Beckwith said.

“We just see this as a great opportunity in Canada and we’re going to go up there and see what we can do with it,” Beckwith said. “Justin is already well known in places like Calgary. We’ve just never brought the services up there like we’re going to now.”

Way down South and beyond
Central and South American markets are also growing – sales have doubled in the markets that Justin has targeted there – and will be a key part of the company’s new sales and service initiatives, Beckwith said.

Western-style and work boots split the bulk of sales in the Latin American markets. Just like in the United States, each brand has its own particular, and devoted, following that the sales force can leverage.

Nocona, for example – the brand most famous for its iconic 70s posters – has developed an extremely loyal following in Venezuela that has kept the boots popular there for decades. 

“Nocona is one of our smaller divisions but it has a real following in Venezuela,” Beckwith said. “We’ve been shipping them there for 30 years.”

Retailers are already in Australia, too, where demand for Western and equestrian styles are most prevalent, said Lisa Lankes, Justin’s head of communications, licensing and social media. Having people on the ground helps keep doing business so far away from home less expensive for the company and for consumers, she said.

“Our products are primarily sold there through middle men who mark up prices before they reach the consumer,” she said. “We think there is a whole lot of opportunity in Australia because, based on the model we’re establishing in Canada, we think we can work around that.”

Beckwith said a warehouse will likely be established in Australia later this year.

Challenges remain
One ongoing challenge regardless of market is getting the word out, Lankes said.

Lankes’ team must determine the right path through which Justin’s many brands will reach the eyes and ears of potential customers in places where the culture may be as different as the language.

“In a lot of ways this is a start-up type of operation,” she said. “We have a lot of products that work, but certain countries will demand different things.”

“Beyond logistics are cultural issues that you really need to be cognizant of,” added Beckwith. “You may need to add a little twist here and there to reach new markets.”

Lankes said the company already offers different takes on some styles that reflect the peculiar demands of certain markets. The company’s Chippewa brand, for example, is popular in Japan with white crepe rubber outsoles.

“It’s just little things like that that you have to be able to do,” she said. “It’s still Chippewa, it’s still our brand, and it still works.”

Justin Brands has been a Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary since 2000. It manufactures and markets boots under the Tony Lama, Justin Boots, Nocona Boots, Chippewa Boots and Justin Original Workboots brands. The company also makes and markets work, safety and sports footwear.

 

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