Exclusive: The Athlete’s Foot Parent Company Acquires Baltimore Retailer Shoe City

·3 min read

The Arklyz Group has acquired Shoe City, a Baltimore-based sneaker and streetwear retailer and associated website, ycmc.com.

The deal, the terms of which were not disclosed, marks the third major acquisition for Arklyz in the last year — and the second recent deal meant to expand the company’s North American presence. In July of 2021, Arklyz snapped up The Athlete’s Foot from Intersport International Corp. And this month, the company acquired Asphaltgold, a leading European sneaker and streetwear retailer.

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With the Shoe City deal, Arklyz Group adds 40 store locations to its roster of retail locations in the U.S., which is spearheaded by The Athlete’s Foot’s more than 50 stores across 12 franchisees. The Athlete’s Foot chain also gains access to Shoe City’s distribution center that can be used to fulfill orders for both banners.

When it comes to acquisition opportunities, The Athlete’s Foot and Arklyz Group look for retailers with strong community ties and loyal consumer bases. Matt Lafone, The Athlete’s Foot president and GM of Americas, described Shoe City’s community engagement as “best in class” since the family-owned business launched in Baltimore more than 70 years ago.

“[Shoe City] has a focus on serving underserved neighborhoods and underserved communities,” said Lafone. “They have a strong minority consumer representation in the stores, just like the Athlete’s Foot.”

First store the Greenberg’s opened. Earl Freedman (L) Israel Freedman (R)
First store the Greenberg’s opened. Earl Freedman (L) Israel Freedman (R)

Like Shoe City, The Athlete’s Foot and Asphaltgold have also excelled at cultivating strong consumer loyalty in their respective regions.

“From starting with our first retail location in Baltimore, then expanding to 40 more stores over last 70 years across the DMV with deep local ties in the community, I am glad that Arklyz and The Athlete’s Foot, with very similar approach, are taking over our family business,” said Shoe City president Greg Greenburg in a statement. “I believe that Arklyz and TAF will help Shoe City and ycmc.com grow further and make them even more community and culture relevant to our local consumers.”

Arklyz CEO Param Singh previously told FN that when it comes to potential acquisition targets, he is looking for existing businesses in the marketplace with “strong brand relationships” and a “loyal consumer base.” He said he is taking inspiration from companies like JD Sports and Foot Locker, both of whom have made notable acquisitions in recent months to expand their store fleets and consumer reach.

In addition to strong community ties, Lafone highlighted the importance of finding brands that connect with underserved consumers and focus on diversity and philanthropic efforts, which he says Shoe City achieves.

While the plan is to currently keep Shoe City’s retail branding the same, the chain’s website will ultimately be updated to represent a co-branding between The Athlete’s Foot and Shoe City.

“It’s really about economies of scale,” Lafone said.

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