When Bob D’Loren was 19 and just out of high school, he worked at a high-end shoe store called Mr. Jay’s in Great Neck, on New York’s Long Island. It was the only place for miles to get a nice pair of Bruno Maglis, he recalls.
30 years later, D’Loren is again peddling shoes, but this time on a slightly larger scale. Last November, his NexCen Brands acquired The Athlete’s Foot, the well-known athletic shoe retailer that fell on hard times, forcing a top franchisee with 100 stores to file for Chapter 11 in 2004.
D’Loren, who previously ran an investment boutique, has been on an acquisition tear of late – backed by hedge funds like D.E. Shaw and Citadel – to assemble a collection of retail and consumer brands that NexCen develops and licenses.
In addition to Athlete’s Foot, NexCen‘s stable now includes fashion house Bill Blass (acquired in February), ice cream chains Maggie Moo’s and Marble Slab Creamery (both acquired in March) and home fabric maker Waverly. NexCen has used a combination of cash, common stock and warrants to acquire those brands, which altogether are expected to deliver more than $1 billion in sales annually. Read on.