Crocs have been on a downward spiral for months now. Fashion people have rejoiced at the thought of Crocs — the bubonic plague of footwear — succumbing to the economy and dying out altogether in the foreseeable future. Earlier this month, the company reported a loss of $22.4 million in the first quarter (last year they only lost $4.5 million in that period). The outlook seemed dismal for Crocs yet bright for feet everywhere! But like so many unattractive fashion trends (high-waisted tapered pants, Arden Wohl headbands, leg warmers, scrunchies ... ), Crocs are poised to survive, quite possibly flourish. In March they brought on John Duerden as president and CEO. Charged with turning the company around, he's painfully optimistic.
I had probably dismissed it as a fad. I thought, this is not going to last, but as I began to look at the company, it became clear to me that there was a passionate group of consumers out there ... I still believe there is a buzz out there in the marketplace; there are consumers who like the idea of Crocs shoes.
Oh. Good. Heavens. Duerden plans to recover from the losses by laying people off, refining Crocs's signature injection-molded technology, and continuing global expansion in markets like Japan and Southeast Asia.
Before Crocs further infect retail establishments worldwide, they have to rein in what has become too sprawling an empire, which they cannot sustain in this economy. So Duerden plans to sell Crocs in fewer doors, or, as he says to make himself feel better about it, implement "a much more selective distribution strategy." Duerden has also shelved plans for a line of Crocs apparel, thank God. In another promising move, he has put the higher-end You by Crocs line of shoes on hold.
Duerden has a sterling reputation in the footwear industry. His plans for Crocs — though almost more terrifying and real a threat than the swine flu — sound logical enough to work. We can't be certain, since we are not, in fact, economists (file that under something new you learned today). Despite this, we have identified a glaring fallacy in Duerden's plan: Nowhere does he mention wanting to make the shoes less ugly. Consider yourself warned.