Authentic Brands Group CEO and Shaq Discuss Big Footwear Acquisitions at the FN Achievement Awards 2023

Authentic Brands Group is on a roll.

For the third time in a five-year span, the New York-based brand management company has been awarded with the Company of the Year award, this time at the 37th annual FN Achievement Awards.

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In his speech accepting the award, Authentic founder, chairman and CEO Jamie Salter explained how the company behind dozens of brand and retailer acquisitions, including Forever 21, Barneys New York and JCPenney, decided to make a more concerted leap into the footwear industry.

“I guess it was about five or six years ago. My partner came to me and said, We should really get into the footwear business,” Salter said. “We’re not really doing much, but we’re doing a lot in apparel. And we started buying footwear companies.”

Fast forward to 2022: Authentic completed its largest acquisition of Reebok and finalized the purchase of Ted Baker. And over the course of 2023, the New York-based brand management company continued its historic shopping spree, nabbing major fashion and footwear players like Hunter Boots, Rockport, Vince and Boardriders (the parent company of Quiksilver, Billabong, Roxy, DC Shoes and others).

NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal, who is the second-largest shareholder of Authentic, played an important role in the Reebok acquisition: he was adamant that the company make a competitive offer to acquire the footwear label from Adidas. And recently, O’Neal and Allen Iverson were appointed to lead Reebok’s basketball division as president and VP, respectively.

“[Reebok] was all my idea, right Jamie? That’s right.” said O’Neal, who presented the award to Salter and Authentic.

All told, Authentic now boasts more than 50 brands and generates more than $29 billion in annual global retail sales with a presence in 150 countries. It also operates nearly 13,000 stores or shop-in-shops, and its brands are carried at 370,000 points of sale.

As for footwear, Authentic’s shoe business currently represents about 45 percent of the $29 billion that Authentic does in global retail sales around the world.

“I can honestly say that everybody has to wear footwear,” Salter said. “Through the good times and the bad times, you got to put footwear on your feet in order to walk to the next destination.”

For 37 years, the annual FN Achievement Awards — often called the “Shoe Oscars” — have celebrated the style stars, best brand stories, ardent philanthropists, emerging talents and industry veterans. The 2023 event is supported by sponsors Authentic Brands Group, Birdies, Caleres, Crocs, FDRA, Nordstrom, Saucony and Vibram.

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