November 27, 1996
Newman acquires
shoe firm

Endicott Johnson
is 75-store chain

The Cincinnati Enquirer

A Cincinnati entrepreneur with a long history in the leather business has acquired the 106-year-old Endicott Johnson shoe company.

George W. Newman III acquired the 75-store Endicott Johnson chain from Millennium Chemicals Inc., a new holding company recently spun off from Hanson Plc.

The purchase price wasn't revealed, but Mr. Newman said it is his plan to grow Endicott Johnson, which had sales last year of $50 million and operates under the Father & Son nameplate.

''We are looking for ways to make all 75 stores more competitive in each marketplace, and we will aggressively identify opportunities to expand and to open new stores,'' he said.

Johnson City, N.Y.-based Endicott Johnson was once the nation's fifth-largest shoe maker, and it operated a network of several hundred shoe stores stretching from New York to Kansas City.

Hanson acquired the company in the early 1980s and spun off the shoe manufacturing plants in its divestiture of U.S. Industries. The retail operations were also pared from 125 stores a year ago.

Scott Davis, chief financial officer for Newman Properties, said Tuesday that the company was looking at adding about five stores in its core markets of New York, Florida and Chicago.

Eventually, he said, Newman Properties planned to expand into new markets.

Mr. Newman's grandfather started Newman Leather Co., an importing business in Cincinnati. That company is still operated by his brother, Jim Newman.

In the 1970s, Mr. Newman became sole U.S. distributor for Corfam, a synthetic product made by DuPont and used in golf shoes.

He subsequently acquired a leather-finishing plant in southern Maine and Robus Leather, a Madison, Ind.-manufacturer of bonded leather used in shoe parts and other leather goods. He sold those businesses in 1994.