From the feet of babes: how Prince George helped Crocs

Legendary producer of clumsy boots is on the verge of collapse due to incompetent managers. Their mistakes must be fixed by the new management and the British monarchy.
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Most fashion brands can only dream about such moments. In June 2015 the tiny Prince George, accompanied by his mother, Kate got to play on the lawn next to the palace, surrounded by a swarm of paparazzi. Obut little monarch was in blue "Crocs" - clumsy shoes-Clog (clog) of the rubber-like polymer material from the company Crocs. In the next few hours, customers around the world swept away from the shelves of electronic stores - especially the British Amazon - «royal» model.

"We were delighted and enchanted prince", - says CEO of Crocs Gregg Ribatt.

He was clearly modest: to brand George Walk was a real triumph, a watershed moment, after which the case again went up the hill. The company, which in the period 2000-2003 has increased sales from $ 1.2 million to $ 850 million per year, was in a crisis situation, close to the critical lately.

In 2013, the revenue of Crocs to $ 1.2 billion, but profits in the same period fell by 92%, to $ 10.4 million. In October of that year the company's shares fell to a record $ 12, which was 43% below the IPO price and 84% orAlso in 2007, the maximum. Nine out of ten Crocs board members at the time had no experience in the shoe industry. The incompetence was manifested in different segments of the business - the company has had problems with the logistics delivery, the fact the products (clogs with a fleece inside, seriously?). When capitalization has fallen by half compared with the Crocs assessment for the location, the company has set its sights on the withdrawal from the stock exchange. "This brand has managed to survive in spite of the ugly leadership", - says analyst firm Monness, Crespi, Hardt & Co. Jim Chartier.

Crisis management as a result of the professionals engaged in the Blackstone, an investment fund specializing in working with troubled assets. In January 2014 Blackstone has acquired 13% of Crocs for $ 200 million and put it on the position of CEO of its consultant Ribatta.

Veteran shoe industry, at that time, he helped make the Fund has two successful exit from the asset in its profile. In 2005, Ribatt in the status of executive vice president and COO Bennett Footwear Ribatt oversaw the sale of brand Via Spiga, Franco Sarto and Etienne Aigner Brown Shoes company for $ 205 million, and in 2012 spent for Blackstone sdelku with a portfolio of Collective Brands (Keds, Sperry Top-Sider, Saucony, Stride Rite) - it for $ 1.24 billion as a result of acquired Wolverine Worldwide.

Shoes Crocs general director - a family craft: his great-grandfather had once engaged in the production of insoles, great grandfather was selling handmade shoes, and parents met as colleagues in the shoe company. And if the majority of the fathers on the way to baseball loved to look into the stall with hotdogs, the father Gregg usually stayed at shoe stores.

"I grew up in this business" - sums up the manager.

As head of Crocs, he closed unprofitable stores, peretryahnul product line and focused on improving distribution. In key positions in the company came to people with experience in Reebok, Sperry Top-Sider, Tommy Hilfiger and Nike. Crocs got rid of the three regional marketing units, moving in the direction of the head office.

In the IV quarter of 2015 the company will introduce an updated style of classical models to spur buying interest on the eve of the hot season, when consumer demand is traditionally becomes feverish. The obvious step for the shoe brand - but Crocs so nset foot for the first time in its history. By the spring of 2016, according to Ribatta, the company plans to halve the range of products to make the emphasis on bestsellers - clogs and more "aesthetic" modifications in the form of slippers and sandals.
Crocs will only return to the origins, recalls CEO. The history of the brand dates back to the beginning zero. In 2002, a native of Boulder (Colorado) Scott Simens noticed clogs Canadian company Fin Project NA, made of a special waterproof and resistant to bacteria polymeric material. He invited partners in three more of his friends - and on the basis of a single model, a new company was created footwear.

One of the co-founders was Ron Snyder, manager of Flextronics - one of the world's largest contract electronics manufacturers. He worked Crocs CEO from 2005 to 2009. It Snyder led the company's IPO in February 2006 and drawn in the placement $ 208 million - more than giants such as Nike and Reebok. In 2007, Crocs has entered the record capitalization of $ 6 billion to the value of shares of $ 75. Snyder also launched the disastrous strategy of the scaleing business: when it absorbed the company boldly competing brands and model line expanded tenfold - from 25 items in 2006 to 250 in 2007.

Such extensive growth quickly came into conflict with the basic rules of the fashion industry, such as the timely introduction of new stylistic solutions. In 2007, Crocs has made too many units of its classic model and ended the year with unsold warehouse. Buyers were willing to spend money on something new - but the company had nothing to offer them.

"They came to the network with their boots for $ 30 per couple, which all were satiated, and have heard from retailers is the same:" Not now, "- explains the analyst firm Sterne Agee Sam Poser. As a result, in 2008, sales of "Crocs" fell by 15% to $ 722 million, and the loss amounted to $ 185 million.
To save the situation in 2009, took a new CEO John Dyurden, comes from Reebok with a reputation as a specialist in restructuring. He managed to stabilize business Crocs through consolidation warehouses, reducing production costs and increasing retail and Internet sales.

Within thDyurden left the company, but the brand is still largely rides on the fuel, flooded when the former CEO of, analysts say.

But a lot of mistakes done Dyurdena successor John Makkarvel, another ex-manager of Flextronics and a member of the first team of Crocs. He blurred the brand value by issuing leather shoes, ballet flats and even "Crocs" fur.

2014 th Crocs completed with the same revenue as the previous year - $ 1.2 billion, but a loss of $ 4.9 million Ribattu That is so far failed to bring the business out of the dive.. Quarterly profit demonstrates the falling rate of year-to-year, the shares after the May storm at $ 16, traded at around $ 14.5 apiece.

Still, the market is full of hope. 55% of analysts working with securities of Crocs, in July advised to buy. For comparison, before the arrival of Ribatta the post of CEO, the figure does not exceed 10%.

Crocs CEO looks to the future with optimism. "When we choose the correct style, we assign the right price and on time deliver, - he says - are doing just fine."

Or will soon. Small, baby steps.