By  on November 15, 2004

MILAN — Italian footwear company Geox will kick off its initial public offering today, with up to 65 million shares available.

Geox will be listed on the Milan Stock Exchange beginning Dec. 1. While the definitive price has yet to be confirmed, press reports in Italy place it between 3.60 euros and 4.80 euros, or $4.60 to $6.10 at current exchange.

The founding Polegato family will sell 56.5 million shares, while the remainder will be new issues.

Geox, which was founded in 1995, has registered an impressive and steady growth over the past eight years, reporting net profits of 30.7 million euros, or $39.3 million, in 2003, and sales of 254 million euros, or $325.1 million, up 40 percent from the previous year. In the first nine months of 2004, Geox reported net profits of 56.3 million euros, or $72 million, on sales of 314.5 million euros, or $402.5 million, up 32.4 percent year-on-year.

The company, based in Montebelluna, in the northeast of Italy, now counts 5,000 direct and indirect employees, and it lists a network of around 240 brand stores and more than 8,000 points of sale worldwide. The company invests more than 10 percent of turnover in marketing and communication.

One concept lies behind its success: “the shoe that breathes” — a marketing catch, but also a true reflection of the company’s trademarked technology that reduces foot perspiration. “Geox is not a shoe brand — there are so many of those….This is a technological company, where projects and technology are applied to the shoe,” said founder Moretti Polegato in an interview earlier this year. “We solve a common foot problem, but we are the only ones to have this technology.”

In March, Geox opened a brand store in New York’s Madison Avenue. In the U.S., the collection also is available at Nordstrom and Dillard’s. Geox shoes retail at around $100.

Production is outsourced to factories around the world, and shoes are assembled outside Italy in Eastern Europe, the Far East and Brazil, among other locations.

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