World Shoe Association sold to privately held company

The World Shoe Association (WSA) business operations have been purchased by WSA Global Holdings LLC, a new, privately held company under CEO Skip Farber and COO Diane Stone, who have directed WSA's efforts for the past three years. WSA produces the footwear and accessories trade shows -- the WSA Show and The Collections at WSA -- and publishes WSA Today and WSAToday.com.
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The World Shoe Association (WSA) business operations have been purchased by WSA Global Holdings LLC, a new, privately held company under CEO Skip Farber and COO Diane Stone, who have directed WSA's efforts for the past three years. WSA produces the footwear and accessories trade shows -- the WSA Show and The Collections at WSA -- and publishes WSA Today and WSAToday.com.

Following the announcement of the sale of the association's assets to WSA Global Holdings, WSA's board of directors designated approximately $38 million to go to footwear and exhibition industry organizations to support their communities and domestic and international humanitarian efforts.

In its history, WSA has operated as both a for-profit and non-profit organization. WSA's distributions of assets are consistent with the requirements of tax-exempt entities. Once these distributions have been completed in the near future, the non-profit organization will dissolve.

"This change should be seamless as far as our customers, employees and business associates are concerned. The only difference will be on paper," Farber said in a statement. "We took this step out of the recognition of what would allow us to best serve our customers, the marketplace and the business long term. We now have the right structure to make decisions, move quickly and pursue the kinds of programs, services and alliances that provide increased value to manufacturers and retailers."

The aggregate grants are the largest to be made in the history of the industry and have been given to the following organizations:

  • $20.3 million - Soles4Souls, a charity in Nashville, Tenn., that is dedicated to providing shoes to those in need anywhere in the world.
  • $5 million (includes grants and sponsorship agreements) - World Shoe Travelers Association in Maryland representing more than 2,200 independent shoe representatives in the United States.
  • $5 million - Two Ten Footwear Foundation, a Waltham, Mass.-based, organization that provides social and educational services to those in need in the footwear industry.
  • $4 million - National Shoe Retailers Association, a trade organization in Maryland representing more than 2,400 independent shoe retailers.
  • $2.35 million - WSA Trust for distribution to fashion and footwear design institution programs.
  • $1 million - Center for Exhibition Industry Research in Dallas, a provider of independent research for the trade show industry.
  • $350,000 - Operation Bootstrap, a long-time project of the Tubac, Ariz., Rotary Club, that distributes shoes to families in need in Southern Arizona. 

"This is the first time that any organization in our industry has been able to provide support at this level," Mitch Fisherman, president of WSA's board of directors, said in a statement.

WSA Global Holdings will produce the twice-yearly WSA Show trade shows and The Collections at WSA. Additionally, the new owners plan to launch Global Footwear Sourcing at WSA in August 2008, a separate trade show to be co-located in Las Vegas with the WSA Shows and created specifically for designers and sourcing executives seeking new technologies, factories and components for footwear design and creation.

In addition to publishing WSA Today and WSAToday.com, the company intends to launch The Shoebook, a web-based reference guide for retailers, in the first quarter of 2007. The company said it will also pursue new ventures in online and print publishing and data to support footwear manufacturers and retailers. 

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