Colorado puts its best foot forward in plan for revival
Colorado will focus on footwear. Photo: Glenn Hunt
THE revival of adventure footwear brand Colorado takes another big step this month with the formal relaunch of the business that collapsed last year with the loss of 1000 jobs and all its branded shops.
The clothing range is gone, and Colorado stores will not resurface until 2014 as chief executive Don Grover seeks to avoid the mistakes of the business' previous owners, Affinity Private Equity Group.
''We want to bring back the product that people love the most, which was the footwear,'' he told BusinessDay.
''When you peel it all back, it's adventure wear, and it's a lifestyle product, and it's built around footwear and that's my intention to play to those very very strong key strengths of the brand.''
Sales will be driven by a new Colorado online website as well as through the other two footwear businesses run by Colorado's operating company, Fusion Retail Brands - Mathers and Williams.
Myer has also signed up as a wholesale customer.
''The distribution strategy we'll have now is less reliant on the huge number of concept stores that Colorado had in the past,'' Mr Grover said. ''I do intend to bring Colorado concept stores back during next calendar year but they'll not be of the scale they were previously.''
Colorado's debt-funded expansion into big concept stores and apparel provided an early demonstration of the retail expansion model that caused so much grief for Billabong investors over the past year.
''I think that's when things started to go wrong for the brand,'' Mr Grover said of the debt-funded expansion into non-core areas.
Colorado ended up in the hands of its creditors, which were owed $430 million, and took ownership of the business in September last year, which was renamed Fusion Retail Brands.
Majority ownership is shared between National Australia Bank, Nomura, Rabobank and US private equity firms Anchorage Capital Partners and Ice Canyon.
Fusion said it generated sales of about $270 million last financial year from its five big brands that also include Diana Ferrari and JAG.
About 25 per cent of top-line growth this year is expected to be generated by Colorado as it rebuilds.
Mr Grover said conditions would remain tough for now.
''There is still that lack of confidence in the general retail market, so our business has got to be capable of taking market share and that will be about how we execute,'' he said.