Cole Haan is finally stepping out and has made its initial public offering official.
After teasing in August that it would stage an IPO, the footwear firm filed its registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission Friday.
The filing paints a picture of a brand that is growing both sales and profits and has successfully leapt of over two key divides in fashion — the migration from formal to casual business wear and the move to digital marketing.
Private equity firm Apax bought control of Cole Haan from Nike Inc. in 2013 and is looking to nab the “CLHN” ticker symbol on the Nasdaq exchange.
The statement is relatively sparse, offering no specifics on how much of the company is going to be floated and at what price, although it does put the amount to be raised at $100 million — a standard placeholder for such documents.
For now, the statement serves more to sell the dream of Cole Haan, casting the company as a “90-year-old start-up,” trying to thread the needle with a brand that has both heritage and hipness.
The financial results show Cole Haan is having some success in that regard.
Net income grew 43.4 percent last year to $33.1 million as revenues increased 14.1 percent to $686.6 million. All together, the brand sells in 64 countries, including through 368 stores and over 450 wholesale accounts.
“Seven years ago, we began our journey as an independent company and set out to transform a classic domestic dress shoe company with a 90-year heritage into something even bigger — a global lifestyle brand serving always-connected, active professionals with innovative footwear and lifestyle accessories,” said Jack Boys, chief executive officer, in a letter to potential investors that is part of the filing.
Boys said the company has been “successful in attracting active urban adventurers” who want work-to-workout-to-weekend styles.
Cole Haan has shifted in recent years from a focus on dress looks to a larger selection of casual, outdoor and sport shoes, a broad category that now makes up 53 percent of the company’s footwear revenues. The firm noted that the trend toward casualization in the workplace was continuing, with half of organizations in the U.S. allowing casual dress every day in 2018.
Likewise, the brand has followed consumers to the web, pointing out that over 30 percent of its sales come through e-commerce, either on its own sites or through the sites of wholesale partners.
“We intend to continue marketing almost exclusively via digital platforms, a strategy that resulted in a 41.9 percent year-over-year increase in the number of our active [direct-to-consumer] customers in fiscal year 2019” when that group of shoppers tallied 1.5 million, the filing said.
The company, however, is coming to market at a time of increased uncertainty, focused on China given the outbreak of the coronavirus, which has virtually shut down retail in the country and tied up supply chains.
Cole Haan warned in its filing: “The outbreak of the coronavirus in Greater China could adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition. The coronavirus outbreak may materially impact our sourcing and manufacturing operations as a portion of our products are manufactured in China and materials for our products are sourced in China by our manufacturers within Greater China and in other affected regions.”
One of the brand’s distributors operates 18 stores in Greater China, some of which are closed.