The Shoes.com website trades hands again, this time with the owner of DSW

Diving brief:

  • DSW’s parent company, Designer Brands, acquired the Shoes.com domain, making the company the second (known) acquirer of the domain in less than two years after Walmart sold it in 2020.
  • A Designer Brands spokesperson said in an emailed statement that the company had acquired the website and intellectual property assets for an undisclosed price as a “key strategic retail area.”
  • A message on the Shoes.com website tells visitors that “we are now part of dsw.com” with a link to the DSW online store. Footwear News previously reported on the acquisition of Shoes.com.

Overview of the dive:

The Shoes.com name has a long and checkered history. Founded in 1999, Shoes.com was acquired by Brown Shoe Co (which became Caleres shoe wholesaler and retailer) in 2000.

In 2014, Brown Shoe Co. sold the e-commerce site to Canadian e-commerce company ShoeMe. Under Brown Shoe, sales on Shoes.com had been declining for years before the sale.

Shoes.com went bankrupt in 2017. Later that year, Walmart recovered the domain name Shoes.com and IP assets for $9 million, sending traffic to its ShoeBuy e-commerce store, which Walmart acquired in 2017 through its now defunct subsidiary Jet. (DSW took over the ShoeMe.ca domain from Shoe.com following the bankruptcy, according to trade media at the time.)

As Walmart revamped and repositioned its digital business, the retail giant sold Shoes.com for an undisclosed amount to private equity firm CriticalPoint Capital, which at the time owned shoe retailer JackRabbit.

last January, CriticalPoint announced that Shoes.com was officially part of his Running Specialty Group, which also owned other businesses, including JackRabbit. The company said at the time that the combination of Shoes.com and JackRabbit would create a “market-leading, omni-channel specialty shoe platform with a wide range of branded footwear.” Last year, CriticalPoint sold JackRabbit management of store franchisor Fleet Feet.

And now Shoes.com resides under Designer Brands and its DSW business, where the company has focused on growing e-commerce. In March, CEO Roger Rawlins told analysts that demand for DSW’s digital business reached $1 billion for the first time.

“The high-traffic Shoes.com domain reinforces Designer Brands’ long-term strategy to expand its digital footprint and strategically position and distribute Designer Brands’ proprietary brands as well as footwear from top national brand partners,” said the spokesperson for Designer Brands.

No operating assets were part of the deal for Shoes.com. Designer Brands did not name the seller of the IP address and domain name.

About William G. Patrick

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