The Athlete’s Foot appeals to former Payless director as president of the United States and general manager of the Americas

The Athlete’s Foot (TAF) invests in its Americas team.

The shoe retailer has selected Matt LaFone as the new US President and CEO of the Americas, effective immediately. LaFone will manage operations in North, South and Central America and report to Param Singh, the company owner and global executive chairman.

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“I’m super excited to be working for such a strong brand with a rich history in this streetwear and footwear space,” LaFone told FN in an exclusive interview. “I think it’s one of the most iconic brands in the world, a global platform.”

TAF, which was acquired by Arklyz Group AG from Intersport International Corp. in July, is expected to reach $ 500 million in global retail sales in 2021, of which $ 60 million is forecast for the United States. in the first half of 2021 year-on-year and 14% compared to 2019.

LaFone comes to TAF after a one-year stint as COO at Payless ShoeSource, where he managed the supply chain, marketing, development and franchise for the chain’s 750 global stores until March 2021 LaFone previously held various product and merchandising roles at Dick’s Sporting Goods, Sports Authority, Crocs and Puma.

Matt LaFone is the new President of the United States and General Manager of the Americas for The Athlete's Foot - Credit: The Athlete's Foot

Matt LaFone is The Athlete’s Foot’s new President and CEO of the Americas – Credit: The Athlete’s Foot

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In his new role, LaFone will oversee the leadership and strategy of TAF’s Americas team. One of his goals is to expand the company’s franchise network and open between 50 and 100 corporate stores through acquisitions or organic growth. The first of these stores is targeting an opening date in the third quarter. TAF currently operates 12 different franchisees in several states, totaling more than 50 stores.

To open new stores, LaFone will leverage the resources of TAF’s recently launched Strategic African American Retail Track (STAART) program, which equips candidates from diverse backgrounds with the tools and training to start their own TAF franchise. TAF is currently working with three candidates who are aiming for opening dates in the second half of 2022. The program aims to facilitate the opening of at least 50 stores over the next five years.

“We have a strong perspective on black property in space,” LaFone said. “And it’s really exciting to be part of a company that has such strong values ​​and missions in this area. I can’t wait to move the business forward.

LaFone also plans to oversee the relaunch of the company’s e-commerce business, Taf.com, within a year and a half. He hopes to eventually see this digital branch represent around 15 to 20% of the channel’s activity.

“While The Athlete’s Foot is undoubtedly a global business, the United States and the Americas are essential to our foundation and our future,” said Singh in a statement. “AAnd I’m confident that with Matt’s leadership, we can continue to build this highly respected legacy brand into a global powerhouse.

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Kevin E. Boling

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