Among its initiatives are:
A new line of performance athletic socks, marking the first time it has entered this category. l Plans to sell socks to Target Stores starting this fall.
A new pricing strategy and its first-ever rebate program with some of its department store accounts.
A new corporate name. Gold Toe’s parent company, Great American Knitting Mills, has changed its name to Gold Toe Brands Inc., reflecting the strength of the Gold Toe brand. The company’s new sport line, called Gold Toe Gear, is designed to bring the company into new retail arenas including athletic stores such as Dick’s Sporting Goods, Foot Locker and Gart Sports.
“Department stores now represent only about 11 percent of total sock sales, and we felt we needed to look at opportunities outside of this channel,” said Trish McHale, Gold Toe’s director of marketing. “This is a major development for us and offers us an entirely new channel of distribution.”
Last year, Gold Toe purchased some assets of Ridgeview Inc., which had made sports socks, and this purchase sped up its introduction in this category, she noted.
Gold Toe Gear, available for women and men, features styles with reinforced heels and toes, as well as blister guard and dry fiber options. Prices for the DuraMates options, which has the logo and size knitted into the sock, carry retail price points of $8.99 for three-packs, and $12.99 for six-packs. The more performance-oriented offerings range from two for $9.99 up to $8.99 for a single pair, McHale said. The gear line began hitting stores this month.
On the fashion front, spring offerings include more color, as well as embroidered patterns. For example, basic crew socks now have pastel treatments, and a more directional line includes socks with lace and stripes. Also on top are styles with microfiber, which is a growth area for the business.
The company, one of the largest department store sock resources, declined to give details about its deal with Target except to say that the socks will be sold under a different name and will carry lower price points than its core brand. The New York-based company, which has estimated wholesale sales of about $150 million for its women’s brands, also makes and markets socks under private label and under license for brands including Kenneth Cole, Jockey, Izod, Arrow and Nautica.
As part of the new pricing strategy, consumers can buy core sock styles at lower prices when they purchase more than one pair. These are not multipacks, but are sold as single pairs. Shoppers can now buy what is known as “three-fors,” or three pairs, for $12, or a single pair for a core price of $4.50.
The rebate program, which began Jan. 1 and runs through the end of this month, offers customers who spend $30 or more a $10 gift check, which can only be used at the retailer where the socks were bought. Gold Toe is providing all the point-of-sale material, including special hangtags.
In other news, the company is also planning on opening four factory outlet stores this year, which will bring its outlet store count to 10.