Background and challenge

A vertically integrated national specialty footwear retailer had been experiencing growth at the wholesale and international levels, but its U.S. retail stores were struggling in terms of sales performance and profit contribution. The company asked L.E.K. Consulting to conduct a top-to-bottom assessment of the business and develop a holistic, consumer-led growth strategy.

Approach and recommendations

First, we identified five key consumer segments and assessed the client’s brand positioning and performance across these groups. We developed deep insights into each segment’s distinct shopping habits, needs and purchase criteria, as well as their brand perceptions of the client and its competitors. We prioritized among the core segments and identified key levers to gain share with each group across product, inventory investment, marketing and store experience.

Next, we conducted a thorough market assessment, investigating market size, trends and growth to determine the size of the client’s addressable market. We also evaluated the competitive landscape and analyzed analogous retailers to gain key learnings from other successful store concepts.

Finally, we assessed the current performance of the retail store network, identifying key drivers of profitability such as mall characteristics and local demographics.

Leveraging the fact base, we developed a holistic, consumer-led growth strategy, spanning consumer segment prioritization, value proposition repositioning and marketing, merchandise assortment enhancement, store concept refinement, and real estate/location strategy.


The client implemented our recommendations and since the repositioning has seen comp sales turn from negative to positive for two-plus years.

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