Deckers Outdoor Corporation (NASDAQ:DECK) makes niche footwear, such as sport sandals and luxury sheepskins. Like most clothing manufacturers, Decker's is subject to both the fickle fashion tastes of its consumers and general economic conditions. These vulnerabilities take on new dimensions for Deckers, however, due to the unique nature of its business. The company's main product is its UGG boot, a trendy sheepskin boot that accounts for three-quarters of its sales. The company's reliance on a single product, however, means that any shift consumer fashion preferences away from sheepskin boots will have a dramatic impact on its business. Moreover, a large part of the company's customer base consists of young middle income women, and this increases the company's sensitivity to economic conditions. The UGG boot can cost up to $300 and as such is considered a luxury by the company's customers. As a result, during downturns, UGG will be the first thing to get the boot. The company earned $265 million in revenue and $31 million i net income in 2009.
The company seeks to offer footwear that is distinctive and appeals broadly to men, women and children. Its products are sold through domestic retailers, international distributors, and directly to end-user consumers through its websites and catalogs. Business for Deckers Outdoor is seasonal, with the highest percentage of Teva brand net sales occurring in the first and second quarters of each year and the highest percentage of UGG brand net sales occurring in the third and fourth quarters. To date, the Simple brand has not had a seasonal impact on the Company.
The company's products are sold under Teva, Simple, and UGG brand names. T
The retail business depends on a company's ability to react to the rapidly changing fashion tastes of consumers and to provide appealing merchandise in a timely and cost effective manner. Specifically for Deckers Outdoor, the continued strength of Teva, UGG and Simple brands is paramount. The success of Deckers depends on UGG boots remaining fashionable. If UGG boots were ever to go out of style, as is often the case with fashion trends, Deckers could potentially lose up to 80% of its revenue. However, some features of the UGG boot that have allowed it to persist longer than most fashion trends of this kind, is that it comfortable, and, due to the sheepskin, allows a "breathability" that keeps the foot warm in cold temperatures and cool in the summer.
A depressed economy hurts businesses that appeal to niche markets and rely on a consumer’s disposable income. Deckers is a niche market because their UGG boots, their primary source of revenue, at upwards of $200 are a luxury brand of shoe. Consumers can find cheaper shoes, even cheaper UGGs (albeit it knock-offs) if need be. Furthermore, because a significant portion of Deckers' consumers are in the middle class, Deckers will face a difficult 2008 if the economy goes through a recession as predicted.
Sheepskin, which is in high demand and limited supply, is the principal raw material for most of Deckers' UGG brand products. These skins are available only during the Spring lambing season. Several problems that sheep tend to suffer from are having about a 10% natural fatality rate and many births which are still born. Two suppliers provided all of the sheepskin purchased by Deckers' independent manufacturers. Furthermore, sheep are susceptible to hoof and mouth disease, which can result in the extermination of an infected herd. Additionally, the supply of sheepskin can be adversely impacted by weather conditions and harvesting decisions.
The success of Deckers Outdoor is linked with the success of the UGG boot, which represents 77% of their net sales. In 1998 the UGG boot began to be marketed as a high fashion luxury item with price tags of up to several hundred dollars. The success of UGGs took off as more celebrities bought into the comfortable lifestyle and were pictured in more and more magazines. However, aside from being a trendy boot, the UGG is generally recognized as comfortable and, as a result of 100% sheepskin, breathable. Deckers believes that the luxury and comfort features of UGG brand products will continue to drive long-term consumer demand, however, as a result of the significant fashion element to UGG brand they seek to prolong its longevity by offering a broader product line suitable for wear in a variety of climates and occasions and by limiting distribution to selected higher-end retailers. As part of this strategy, They have increased their product offering to approximately 150 styles for men, women and children.
A number of Deckers' competitors have significantly greater financial resources, as well as greater brand awareness in the footwear market. Competitors include athletic and footwear companies, branded apparel companies and retailers with their own private labels. Two of note are Nike (NKE) and The Timberland Company (TBL).