Following a 15-year hiatus from China, Taiwan's leading footwear brand, “Jump,” is making another foray into that market. “Today the center of gravity of the global economy is shifting to China and the rapid growth of the affluent population there has attracted more and more international brands to contend for a bigger share of the consumer market,” explains Jump's chairman, J.W. Chen. “So, now is the right time for us to re-enter the footwear market in China.”
Established in 1975 in central Taiwan, Jump is regarded as Taiwan's pioneering footwear manufacturer. It uses the “Travel Fox” as well as “Jump” brand; both have long been popular in markets both at home and abroad.
Jump started to build up its export market by selling high-end men's shoes and sneakers to the United States in 1982 and tapping the market in China in 1990. The early results of these attempts were encouraging, and in 1993 Travel Fox was spun off into a separate company to handle rising market demand for that brand.
“In addition to the overseas markets,” Chen recalls, “our shoes also won huge popularity among consumers in Taiwan. The success of our footwear brands encouraged me to set up a ‘self-owned brand association' with some other prominent Taiwanese brands such as Acer (computers), Giant (bicycles), and Proton (TVs).”
The glory days for Jump and Travel Fox faded, however, as more and more footwear brands emerged to compete. In the late 1990s Jump withdrew from the market in China and downsized its operations in the U.S. due mainly to the increasing threat from Nike and Adidas, the world's two sports footwear giants.
Then Jump recruited an innovative design team and launched the brand in Europe in 2002. With a strong design sensibility, the company set off in an aggressive new direction featuring a chic Asian cool with a decidedly European flair. Soon, Jump was introduced into the stores of top European retailers including Printemps, Galeries Lafayette, and Topman.
Following its success in Europe, Jump was introduced to the Japanese fashion world; by 2006 the brand was being sold in over 100 boutiques in Japan, including the prestigious Hankyu department store.
Around the same time, the company began opening retail stores in South America. Its most recent opening there was on the Venezuelan resort island of Margarita, and Jump is now one of South America's most popular fashion footwear brands.
In 2007, Jump arrived in the heart of New York's Soho with a stylish flagship store at 89 Spring St. This was where the company debuted the Jump Sneaker Deluxe, named in homage to Jump's beginnings as a sneaker brand, with a “neo-luxe” design that is the convergence of high-end street and daring luxury. Jump-brand footwear can now be found in a host of prominent retail stores like Saks, Bloomingdale's, Kitson, Oak, Akira, and Nordstrom.
In 2009 Jump produced about two million pairs of shoes with value of around US$30-40 million (about NT$960 million-1.3 billion). Now the company hopes to bolster its success further by developing the ballooning market in China.
“Jump is going to cooperate with Travel Fox, its sister firm, to jointly explore the shoe market in China,” Chen reports. “In recent years Travel Fox has expanded the market share of branded shoes in Taiwan by introducing other international brands, namely Fly, Bunker, and Cable & Co.; and so far it has opened 40 direct sales outlets in addition to 80-plus sales agencies on the island.”
In addition to Taiwan, Travel Fox also sells its shoes in many other countries, including Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Singapore, Hong Kong, the U.S., Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Portugal. Today its annual shoe output totals more than two million pairs.
Travel Fox opened its first Chinese store in Nanjing in Sept. 2010, and is eager to open more stores there in the near future. Jump will participate in that expansion. “Jump is going to cooperate with Travel Fox in returning to the market in China, and will take the successful experience of Travel Fox as operating model there,” Chen says.
(by Judy Li)