Wis. shoemaker to open stores in China, reversing virtual 1-way flow of shoes from Asia to US
PORT WASHINGTON, Wis. (AP) — There's a good chance the shoes you're wearing right now were made in China. Now an American shoemaker wants to put the shoe on the other foot, by persuading the Chinese to wear shoes made in the USA.
The Allen Edmonds Shoe Corp., whose high-end shoes have been worn by U.S. presidents for generations, is preparing to open stores in China while keeping the manufacturing work at home. The plan marks a reversal of sorts in a footwear industry that has flowed almost entirely from East to West.
Nearly 99 percent of shoes sold in the U.S. are imported, with China accounting for about 88 percent of the total, according to a report by the American Apparel & Footwear Association.
Allen Edmonds is hoping to become a larger player in the world market. So the Wisconsin-based shoe company announced Tuesday it has signed a licensing agreement with a Shanghai-based company to sell its shoes in China, Hong Kong and Macau. The first store is slated to open in Shanghai by the end of June.
Conventional wisdom might suggest that the cheapest way to sell to the Chinese is to assemble the products in China, thereby minimizing labor and shipping costs. But Paul Grangaard, Allen Edmonds' top executive, wouldn't hear of it. He said a significant part of his company's appeal is that its products are U.S.-made.