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VANS DRIVING INTO UNCHARTED TERRITORY WITH NEW SKATE PARK

VANS DRIVING INTO UNCHARTED TERRITORY WITH NEW SKATE PARK

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          CNNfn's Jan Hopkins reported on the CA-based shoe and
     apparel company Vans and its 46,000-square-foot "skate
     park," which is "the largest indoor skate park in the world
     and the latest marketing tool and money maker from Vans."
     The company is "selling a lifestyle, aimed squarely at a
     younger crowd."  Vans President & CEO Gary Schoenfeld: "We
     think that kids want to own their own brands, they want
     brands that market to them directly, that think about them
     [as] part of their ... lifestyle.  That's really what Vans
     is about."  Schoenfeld gave Vans a "rebirth" in '88, when
     the venture capital firm he was working for paid $70M for
     the company, which was then "grossing about" $40M a year.
     Schoenfeld said the brand had "lost its meaning, although it
     clearly had an identity. ... Let's take that identity and
     let's really start thinking in terms of being a marketing
     and product driven enterprise."  Hopkins added the "new
     ownership" of Vans "doubled its sales by 1991 and went
     public that year."  Schoenfeld closed Vans' U.S. factories,
     "transforming" the company "from a domestic shoe maker, into
     a global marketing company. ... Through event sponsorship
     and marketing partnerships, Vans has broadened its appeal
     into ... extreme sports like BMX racing, wakeboarding and
     snowboarding.  Since 1996, the company also has extended the
     brand name into a profitable apparel."  Hopkins said the
     company's "young staff works closely with top skaters to
     develop new products."  Vans is now "profitable" and had
     global sales of more than $200M in '99 (CNNfn, 3/1).