OnlineShoes.com, a Seattle online retailer of footwear that got its start in 1996 a year after Amazon.com emerged on the scene, has been acquired by Canadian entrepreneur Roger Hardy. Hardy Capital Corp. is buying the online retailer for an undisclosed sum, joining with a group of Canadian investors. They’ve also purchased Vancouver, B.C.-based ShoeMe.ca, with that company set to merge with OnlineShoes.com.
The combined company will be based in Canada, becoming the largest online footwear company in the country. It will continue to operate offices in Seattle, with much of the management team remaining intact.
“We believe that Seattle has tier 1 talent,” said Hardy. “The team here is passionate and engaged, and we look forward to continuing to grow the company locally.
OnlineShoes.com is profitable with $140 million in annual revenue last year. It offers free shipping, and exchanges, joining the online retailing revolution five years before Zappos took control of the category. OnlineShoes.com was founded by Dan Gerler, who took his family’s shoe business online in 1996. He will remain involved as an advisor. The company never took outside financing.
“The footwear category in North America is estimated at more than $50 billion and there are large segments of the population being grossly underserved,” said Hardy. “We are determined to redefine the shopping experience for North American consumers while delivering the savings and convenience they’ve come to expect from other online categories.”
Hardy previously founded Coastal Contacts, which sold earlier this year to Essilor for $400 million. He will serve as chairman and CEO of the combined company. Sean Clark, founder of ShoeMe, will serve as president as a 100-day consolidation plan is rolled out.
The combined company will have more than 250 employees, and annual revenues of $186 million. It will offer more than 350 shoe brands, and over 35,000 shoes.