Cole Haan is going public.
On Monday, the footwear and accessories brand confirmed its plans to update its status on the open market.
“Our management team is confident in the opportunities we have created for the Cole Haan brand and our business globally,” chief executive officer Jack Boys said in a statement. “Based on the momentum we have generated in the business and the opportunities we believe are before Cole Haan, we have determined that now is the time to prepare for an initial public offering of the company’s shares.”
The timing of the IPO is unknown and a company spokesperson declined to comment further.
Cole Haan has come a long way since its inception more than 90 years ago. The New Hampshire-based brand, which has 107 stores in the U.S., in addition to a fleet abroad, sells footwear, accessories and some outerwear. It’s best known for its collection of premium dress shoes and sneakers.
But it wasn’t always this way. The company throughout the Nineties and into the Aughts struggled to sell its selection of premium dress shoes even though Cole Haan was then part of activewear giant Nike Inc. The brand’s performance under Nike was hit-and-miss, with numerous changes in strategy, designer and ceo. Nike attempted to fuse its activewear expertise with Cole Haan’s design-led approach, adding a Nike Air sole to Cole Haan dress footwear. Eventually Nike decided to exit, selling the company in 2013 to private equity firm Apax Partners for $570 million.
What no one could have anticipated, though, was the growth of ath-leisure, the casualization of fashion or the continued sneaker craze. And with relaxed dress codes, suddenly people began sporting pricy sneakers — like Cole Haan’s $220 ZeroGrand trainers — to work. And while general shoe retailers have seen better days — Nine West and Payless have both filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the last two years, while shares of Foot Locker are down more than 28 percent year-over-year — specialty sneakers, like Adidas, Allbirds and Nike continue to buck the trend. So do sneaker resale sites like Goat, StockX and Stadium Goods. Clearly, consumers are hungry for and willing to pay for higher-quality shoes — turning Cole Haan’s mix of dressy and sporty into a hot commodity.
“Cole Haan is among the few apparel and footwear [leveraged buyouts] that have managed to invest and grow amid a highly promotional environment, leading to an improved credit position,” Raya Sokolyanska, vice president and senior analyst at Moody’s Investor Service, said. “Solid execution on the product and digital marketing front and a deliberate and timely focus on athletically inspired fashion have been key factors in Cole Haan’s ability to reinvent its heritage brand.”
The company had revenues of $647 million for the 12 months ending December 2018, according to Moody’s, which upgraded the company’s rating in January.
“The rating is supported by Cole Haan’s strong recent earnings performance driven by product and digital execution, as well as its good brand recognition and diverse distribution channels,” the January note read. “We project continued revenue and earnings growth over the next 12 to 18 months.”
If Cole Haan does go public, it will join the growing list of brands and retailers, including Levi’s, Farfetch, Revolve and TheRealReal, that have done so in the last year.
Even so, while the exact date of Cole Haan’s planned IPO is unclear, the timing is less than ideal with continued tariff tensions between the U.S. and China looming and fears of a global recession growing.