Genesco Inc. is an American publicly owned specialty retailer of branded footwear, licensed and branded headwear and licensed sports apparel and accessories and is a wholesaler of branded and licensed footwear based out of Nashville, Tennessee. Through its various subsidiaries as of the end of 2013, Genesco operates 2,459 retail stores throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the Republic of Ireland and wholesales branded and licensed footwear to more than 1,025 retail accounts. Founded as the Jarman Shoe Company in 1924 as a footwear manufacturer, the company changed its name to the General Shoe Company in the 1930s and became a public company in 1939. The company took its current name, Genesco, in 1959. Genesco exited footwear manufacturing in 2002 and now contracts with independent, third parties located outside the United States to manufacture its branded and licensed footwear. In June 2011, Genesco acquired UK retail chain and web business Schuh. This was seen as a huge step for the business as it gave them an already well established grounding in a market outside of the U.S.
James Franklin Jarman and William Hatch Wemyss, both former salesmen for Carter Shoe Co. in Nashville, founded Jarman Shoe Company in 1924 as a footwear manufacturer. The company grew rapidly and took the name General Shoe Company in the 1930s. General Shoe Company's initial public stock offering took place in 1939.
By the 1950s, General Shoe had factories in many southern towns, especially in Genesco's home state of Tennessee. The company assumed its current name, Genesco, in 1959, two years after it was chosen as one of the stocks in the first S&P 500 Index. Under the leadership of W. Maxey Jarman, the ambitious son of co-founder J.F. Jarman, the company slowly began the process of diversifying away from strictly footwear manufacturing, especially as more of this was conducted overseas. It entered into fields such as sports, at one time manufacturing and selling football (soccer) balls and at one point owned New York department store Bonwit Teller and five-and-dime store S. H. Kress & Co.
The company suffered from over-diversification at one point, and the ongoing manufacturing operations in the Southern United States continued to depress results for a long period of time. The company was probably saved by its decision to reposition itself as a retailer. Genesco exited the business of shoe manufacturing when it closed Johnston & Murphy's Nashville, TN factory in 2002. Genesco now contracts with independent, third parties located outside the United States to manufacture its branded and licensed footwear.
The following is a list of retailers and brands owned by and licenses held by Genesco: