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Genesco Celebrates 95th Anniversary in Goodwill Style

Genesco is celebrating its 95th anniversary this year, and as part of the festivities the longtime, Nashville, TN-based company is upping the ante on its community relations and outreach initiatives. As part of an employee appreciation luncheon this Friday at its corporate headquarters in Murfreesboro, TN, the company will announce “95 Days of Caring,” a community-service program that will highlight its long tradition of volunteerism. Efforts include its annual Make a Difference Charity Golf Tournament that raised more than $550,000 this year for United Way and its annual Cold Feet, Warm Shoes program that benefits needy children that will add a special shoe fitting in Lebanon, TN, home of its Journeys Distribution Center.

Founded in 1989, the Cold Feet, Warm Shoes program sees Genesco volunteers individually measure and fit each needy children with a pair of new shoes in a mock store setting (typically set up in an inner city school’s gym). The program provides children with the power of choice, the same respect and service they would receive at any of Genesco’s 1,490 stores, and the practical solution of properly fitting, warm footwear. Last year more than 200 Genesco employees fit approximately 400 students and, to date, close to 25,000 children have benefitted from this program in Nashville and other cities across the U.S.

For the past 17 years, Genesco has hosted the Make a Difference Charity Golf Tournament benefitting the United Way of Metropolitan Nashville. Since 2002, $5.7 million has been raised for the organization and the Middle Tennessee community. Genesco has also been a founding corporate partner in Nashville with five nonprofit organizations, including the United Way, Junior Achievement, PENCIL Foundation, INROADS and the Tennessee Minority Purchasing Council. 

CEO Bob Dennis will serve as emcee of the corporate luncheon, which will include community leaders. There are about 800 employees based in the corporate offices and 21,000 across its retail footprint in the U.S., Canada, United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland.

The luncheon is just one of several events showcasing the company’s anniversary milestones, history and accomplishments this year. Genesco recently marked its 80th anniversary on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). The company is the 78th longest listed company on the NYSE and the oldest company from Tennessee. 

That history dates back to August 1924 when James Franklin Jarman and William H. Wemyss founded the Jarman Shoe Company in Nashville. The company enjoyed success out of the box with its “Friendly Fives” ($5 footwear) and hit sales of $1.3 million in its first full year of operations. In 1930, it opened its first store. In 1933, with the addition of a new footwear line and plans for more, the Jarman Shoe Company changed its name to the General Shoe Company. In July 1939, it was listed on the New York Stock Exchange NYSE:GCO. It is the oldest publicly-listed Tennessee company on the NYSE today, and 78th oldest member of the exchange nationally.

At Genesco’s 35th anniversary in 1959, there were 810 stores and leased departments, 61 operating divisions, 18,000 employees in 17 countries, 47 major factories in 14 states manufacturing clothing and footwear, of which 30 million pairs of shoes were produced. Also that year the company was renamed to Genesco Inc. During the ’60s the company experienced accelerated growth, which spanned ownership of major national stores and international operations, including controlling interest of the Hoving Corporation, which owned Tiffany & Co. It had grown “from one line of shoes in 1924 to everything to wear in 1959.” In the late ’70s and ’80s, the business struggled and, amid restructuring, Genesco began to return to its roots and focus primarily on footwear. The shift returned the company to profitability.

Today, Genesco is a leading $2.2 billion footwear-focused company, with approximately 1,500 stores across the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland, operating under the retail and wholesale brands including Journeys, Journeys Kidz, Little Burgundy, Schuh, Johnston & Murphy, Trask, Dockers Footwear and their accompanying ecommerce sites.


The April/May 2024 Issue

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