By  on November 19, 2007

NexCen, a global brand acquisition firm, has joined with fashion and footwear maker Camuto Group to acquire the trademarks and intellectual property of The Shoe Box Inc., a chain that sells high-end shoes such as Giuseppe Zanotti, Chloé and Jimmy Choo.

The companies plan to create an international, multibrand luxury footwear chain with 500 franchised stores under The Shoe Box name. The goal for each of the 800- to 1,000-square-foot units is $1 million in retail sales. The stores would retain the current designer footwear assortment, in addition to Camuto Group's brand roster that includes Jessica Simpson, Arturo Chiang, BCBG Max Azria and Nicole Miller. Shoes in the stores retail from $125 to $500 and higher.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

The retail format will be redesigned by the New York-based Camuto Group and NexCen Franchise Management, based in Atlanta. The stores will also carry accessories, including handbags and belts. Shoes will make up 80 percent of the assortment and 20 percent will be accessories.

Richard Kirschenbaum, owner of The Shoe Box, which has nine stores and is based in New York, will become a partner in the venture. He will also take on a consulting role within NexCen to assist in marketing, merchandising and training franchise owners.

"Strategically, it's a big step for us,'' said Robert W. D'Loren, president and chief executive officer of NexCen. "Financially it isn't a big commitment. I have admired what The Shoe Box is about in the marketplace. We're looking for a distribution for the channel of brands that we own. It's a way for us to become vertical."

D'Loren continued, "This is about being in the neighborhood, it's about convenience. We're also global. For many of our global partners, getting the product is difficult. What the consumer is looking for is a place that can deliver the designer brands perhaps with some value alongside it. What we're doing...is innovating a new model for the industry."

The plan is to open international stores first and U.S. stores within 90 to 120 days.

NexCen has also inked a 30-year licensing deal with Camuto Group to develop footwear for Bill Blass, which NexCen owns."We're very prolific," said Vince Camuto, ceo of the Camuto Group, which is the master licensee for the Jessica Simpson collection and owns the Vince Camuto and Arturo Chiang brands.

Camuto develops and manages the Antonio Melani and Gianni Bini brands and holds the footwear licenses for BCBGirls, BCBG Max Azria and Nicole Miller. The firm also produces Tory Burch footwear.

"We thought this would be a magical partnership," he said. "NexCen knows how to build brands and infrastructure. They have the same vision and passion we have."

D'Loren said NexCen continues to look to acquire footwear, apparel and food and beverage brands. The company is considering The Shoe Box franchises in South Korea, China, the Middle East and Europe.

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