WisBusiness: Famous Footwear to leave Madison, take 270 jobs


Brown Shoe Co. announced today it will move Madison-based Famous Footwear’s corporate headquarters to St. Louis.

The move had been rumored for months and will affect 270 workers at the Famous Footwear offices on Mineral Point Road.

Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz said he was “very disappointed” by the Brown Shoe decision.

“The City of Madison worked closely with the Wisconsin Department of Commerce, the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce and others to develop an attractive package of incentives for Brown Shoe.

“I personally traveled to St. Louis to make the case for Madison, and City staff and I were in frequent communication with the company,” he said.

The mayor said he remains convinced Madison’s economy is doing well.

“Our 3.5 percent unemployment rate is the lowest of any city in Wisconsin, and one of the lowest in the nation,” he said. “But today’s news reminds us that if we want our economy to remain strong, we need to aggressively implement our new economic development plan and other initiatives.”

Famous Footwear President Joe Wood said Madison employees will be offered jobs and relocation assistance if they choose to relocate.

He did not say how the move will affect 130 workers at the company’s distribution center in Sun Prairie.

For those remain in Madison, he said Brown Shoe will offer severance packages including at least one and a half weeks of compensation per year of employment, with a minimum of four weeks; outplacement assistance; and job fairs.

In addition, he said Brown Shoe will continue its support of major charitable and civic partners in the Madison community for at least the next three years, and honor all longer-term commitments.

“Moving our Madison office, which has the smaller population of the two, will be the least disruptive to our business and our employees, enabling us to continue providing great products and service to our customers,” he said.

“Nevertheless, we understand this will be difficult for some of our people, and we are committed to easing this transition for them,” said Wood.

He said the move will start in the second quarter and be fnished by October. He said the relocation will cost Brown pre-tax expenses of $25 to $30 million ($0.37 to $0.44 per diluted share).

These expenses include people-related costs for relocation, severance and retention, as well as asset write-off and lease termination costs.

The Famous Footwear corporate headquarters has been in Madison home since the shoe store’s inception in 1960. Brown Shoe Co. bought Famous Footwear in 1980.

See release: http://www.wisbusiness.com/index.iml?Article=123321