Payless is back in business in North America — with a modified name and big store expansion plans.
The discount footwear retailer, which filed for bankruptcy protection in February 2019, and went on to close its 2,500 stores and e-commerce operations in North America, has reentered the market. Formally dropping "Shoesource" from its brand name, Payless has launched a new e-commerce platform featuring private label and brand names and has a new retail prototype in the wings.
Payless said it is reemerging in the North American market with a new omnichannel approach, both online and in-store. As part of its new strategy, the retailer has set a goal of opening 300 to 500 freestanding stores across North America during the next five years, beginning with the launch of a prototype in late fall, in Miami, which is also home to the brand’s new headquarters. The company intends to open 30 to 45 stores in the region by the end of next year, reported Women’s Wear Daily. (According to the report, Payless is signing all leases as percentage rent deals and will not take on spaces with traditional leasing terms.)
Payless’ new strategy is being led by CEO Jared Margolis, who heads up the company’s new management team, which was appointed in January. He previously served as president of CAA-GBG, the largest licensing agency in the world and a joint venture between Global Brands Group and Creative Artists Agency.
"We saw an opportunity for the brand to relaunch into the US market, providing our community with the affordable, value-driven products they've always searched for, now across multiple categories, at a time when value couldn't be more critical,” said Margolis. “Payless is for everyone, and now more than ever, the world needs to pay-less. We are so excited to bring Payless back to you, so you and future generations to come can lead the way forward."
The new Payless stores will be designed to offer a seamless customer experience, with in-store touchpoints that merge design with onsite digital components, including smart mirrors and touchscreen wall panels, the retailer said. The stores will also feature a “first-of-its-kind” augmented reality foot comparison chart that will allow shoppers to measure their shoe size with their phone, to assist with both in-store and online purchasing.
“Payless' new brick-and-click stores will not only have an updated design, look and feel, but also reinvent the way we shop,” the company stated.
The new stores will be in addition to the brand's existing 700 international stores, which consist of 298 franchise and 412 Latin and Central America locations. (Payless international stores were not affected by the company’s bankruptcy filing.)
The retailer is also launching a new initiative, "Powered by Payless,” this fall to help individuals nationwide who will be unable to access the Internet or the technology needed for at-home and hybrid learning, and the meal services provided through in-school lunch programs. Payless is partnering with deserving schools across the country to provide students, teachers and their families with the online connectivity technology, complimentary lunches, and shoes “to power the body and mind for this new and different school year ahead.”
"We are in truly unpreceded times, and it's undeniable that this year's back-to-school season will be unlike any other," said Margolis. "We are fully aware that we're relaunching in a time when many have lost their jobs, finances are tight, and parents nationwide are adjusting to working from home, facilitating at-home schooling for their children, all while serving the most important role as parent. However, during this time we also know that kids all over the country are leading the way – through their imaginations, resilience, and determination. We're excited and proud to be in a position to bring the Payless brand back to life to provide parents with the value they need, and kids with the styles they will love, in a way that acknowledges and celebrates every single one of our consumers."