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Genesco Celebrates 95 years!

October 10, 2019 3 min read

Genesco Inc. celebrated its 95th anniversary this year, and as part of the festivities the longtime, Nashville-based company hosted an employee appreciation luncheon event at its corporate headquarters on  Friday, October 4, 2019.

The luncheon was just one of several events designed to showcase the Nashville company’s anniversary milestones, history and accomplishments this year.

• Genesco marks its 80th anniversary on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) this year. The Company is the 78th longest listed company on the NYSE, and the oldest company from Tennessee, as it was listed in July 1939.

• Genesco’s community relations and outreach initiatives have set the standard in Nashville and throughout the footwear industry with its signature community outreach program Cold Feet, Warm Shoes, which was founded in 1989. Genesco volunteers individually measure and fit each needy children with a pair of new shoes in a mock shoe store setting, typically set up in an inner city school’s gym. Cold Feet, Warm Shoes provides children with the power of choice; the same respect and service they would receive at any of Genesco’s 1,490 retail stores; and the practical solution of properly fitting, warm footwear. Last year more than 200 Genesco employees fit approximately 400 students at Park Avenue Elementary, and to date close to 25,000 children have benefited from this program in Nashville and other cities across the U.S.

• Genesco has been a founding corporate partner in Nashville with five nonprofit organizations, including: the United Way (formerly the United Giving Fund), Junior Achievement, PENCIL Foundation, INROADS and the Tennessee Minority Purchasing Council.

• For the past 17 years, Genesco has hosted the Make a Difference Charity Golf Tournament benefiting the United Way of Metropolitan Nashville. Since 2002, $5.7 million has been raised for the United Way and the Middle Tennessee community.

Genesco was founded as the Jarman Shoe Company in August 1924 by James Franklin Jarman and William H. Wemyss in Nashville, Tenn. The Company enjoyed success early on with its “Friendly Fives” $5 footwear reaching sales of $1.3 million in its first full year of operations. In 1930 it opened its first retail store, and in 1933, with the addition of a new footwear line and plans for more on the way, 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 said to be 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 retail stores and leased departments, 61 operating divisions, with 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 in 1959 alone. In 1959, following decades of unparalleled growth and diversification beyond footwear, the Company was renamed to Genesco Inc. Genesco accelerated its growth during the 1950s and 1960s to include ownership of major national retail stores and international operations, including controlling interest of the Hoving Corporation, which owned Tiffany & Co. The Company continued to grow in the 1960s with an executive quotes that the Company had grown “from one line of shoes in 1924 to everything to wear in 1959.” In the late 1970s and 1980s, the business struggled, and amid restructuring, divestitures, and thoughtful leadership, the Nashville-based Company began a process to return to its roots to focus primarily on being a footwear company, and returned the Company to profitability.

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.