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Shoe Carnival Just Had Its Best Quarter Ever. Its Newly Minted CEO Explains Why.

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It’s been a busy few months for Mark Worden.

The executive was named the CEO of Shoe Carnival in September, but he’s already leading the footwear retailer through a period of stellar growth. On Tuesday, Shoe Carnival posted record-breaking quarterly sales, earnings, and profit, with net sales of $356.3 million.

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The results marked the best quarter in Shoe Carnival’s 43-year history, despite a period of record inflation and supply chain headwinds across the industry.

“It’s an honor to have the chance to lead this amazing company at this inflection point,” Worden, who previously served as the company’s president and chief customer officer, told FN in an interview.

In explaining the company’s quarter in a call with investors, executives highlighted the return to brick-and-mortar sales, with store traffic up over 40% year to date.

“Our Shoe Carnival customers resoundingly returned to live shopping,” Worden said, estimating that Shoe Carnival has engaged with “millions and millions” of new customers since the onset of the pandemic.

As store sales surge, e-commerce is also outperforming, with Q3 levels up triple digits since 2019. Altogether, Shoe Carnival has managed to cross the billion dollar brand mark for the first time in three quarters, with sales having grown over $300 million this year.

But for Wolden, this momentum is only the beginning. His next goal? To grow Shoe Carnival to a multibillion-dollar company. To do this, Wolden will build on existing improvements and expansion plans to cement the retailer as the value footwear store of choice.

Part of this plan involves carrying out a store modernization plan, which aims to transform 90% of the company’s store fleet by 2025. Shoe Carnival is currently finishing up a process of closing stores, with plans to move back to strategic re-openings and improvements throughout 2022.

The company is also investing in loyalty and customer relationship management platforms to maintain the millions of new customers that started shopping at Shoe Carnival this year. In Q3, Shoe Carnival had 28 million Shoe Perks loyalty members, which was 3 million more than 2020.

Even amid supply chain slowdowns, Shoe Carnival has remained ahead of the curve in all major shopping holidays this year. Wolden chalks this up to a forward-thinking mentality that prioritized a strong inventory position and relationships with suppliers early on.

“We worked very closely to bring inventory in as early as possible so that we were ready for back to school,” Wolden said. “And now we’re ready for holiday.”