No, Crocs isn’t leaving the shoe business

Crocs sparked a minor panic among fans of its colorful plastic clogs by announcing on Wednesday that the company is closing the last of its manufacturing facilities. But mule-lovers can rest easy — the footwear maker isn’t going of business. Rather, Crocs — which is profitable — is closing factories and shutting some stores in a move to cut costs and boost earnings.

Wall Street is pleased. Crocs shares, which have risen 49 percent this year, nosed up further on Thursday.

Most Crocs are already made in factories not owned by the shoe maker. Closing the last of its company-owned facilities, in Mexico and Italy, is part of a plan to completely outsource Crocs’ production, a spokesperson for the company said.

The closing factories manufactured less than 10 percent of Crocs’ proucts, said Steven Marotta, an analyst at CL King & Associates.

“Their supply chain is very strong,” he said. “That itty-bitty amount of [shoes] can be easily absorbed through the supply chain.”

Outsourcing production has been a common business strategy for apparel companies since the 1980s. Today, companies from Apple to the Trump Organization contract with others to supply their goods, often to criticism from pro-labor forces.

For Crocs, outsourcing can make it easier to change product lines and respond to customer demand, said Sam Poser, analyst for Susquehanna Financial Group.

“Let’s say you own a factory that only makes Crocs,” he said. “Even when it’s not working, you’re still paying rent and you’re still paying people. Nike, I don’t think, owns one factory. None of these companies own factories. It’s not what they do.”

Crocs’ turnaround plan, which started in 2014, also involves closing some stores and focusing more on online sales. The company closed about 160 stores over the last year, it said in a recent presentation to investors, and has about 400 today.  

“Closing their stores is a bit of a challenge,” said Marshal Cohen, chief retail analyst at the NPD Group. That said, “I would rather be more profitable and smaller,” he added.

So far, Wall Street is a fan of the turnaround plan. Shares of the company, which bottomed out in April 2017 at $6.23, have since tripled in price.

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