Scheduled To Have At Least Six To 12 Flagship Stores And Over Time, 40 or 50 Stores
A year after announcing plans to expand into China, Wisconsin-based shoemaker Allen Edmonds has finally opened its inaugural store in China, recently cutting the ribbon at Shanghai’s Grand Gateway 66 shopping mall. Flanked by China chairman Kelvin Chao and China CEO Michael Cape, president and CEO Paul Grangaard expressed his excitement about Allen Edmonds’ China expansion, which coincides with its 90th anniversary, reiterating that the first location in Shanghai is only the first in what looks to be an ambitious project. Previously, Grangaard has said that, in China, he plans to open “at least six to 12 flagship stores and over time, 40 or 50 stores in China in the next five years.”
What demand from new markets like China translates to for the heritage footwear brand is, of course, increased production, for which Allen Edmonds has added 120 new employees over the past two years. Grangaard previously pointed out that “China is certainly an important part of [our growth]. And the development of the Chinese market will also create some jobs in the US.” Capitalizing on steadily increasing interest in “Made in USA” brands, Allen Edmonds preluded its Shanghai grand opening with media previews and an introductory exhibition, showcasing the brand’s handcrafted history. Along with designing the store decor for a more exclusive look in the China market, Grangaard said Allen Edmonds will also branch into China’s growing e-commerce market after its launch, and has already added Chinese-language functionality to its official website. To further burnish the brand’s “All-American” image, each Allen Edmonds store in China will sell the brand’s business and casual lines, as well as its new even higher-end line, “The Independence Collection,” each model of which is named after a signer of the Declaration of Independence.
While most US-made heritage brands of a smaller-scale may not have the production capacity (or, for some, the desire) to expand into the China market in any major way, the potential for Allen Edmonds to carve out a niche in China looks better by the month, with more Chinese shoppers demanding quality over glitz. Though competition is incredibly stiff, and it will take a great deal of effort to convert China’s Italian footwear-obsessed wealthier male shoppers to its cause, Allen Edmonds could just be at the right place at the right time.