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Oakley Outlines Its Plans to Open First Store, Hire Outside Ad Agency

June 12, 1999|LESLIE EARNEST | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Oakley Inc. will open its first store next month, part of a broad push under a new chief executive to increase the company's visibility and expand each of its product lines.

During Oakley's annual shareholder meeting Friday, new CEO William D. Schmidt outlined steps the Foothill Ranch-based company will take to boost its brand, including hiring an outside advertising agency for the first time.

And while the sunglass maker's stock continues to struggle, Oakley is not backing down from its earlier decision to tackle new markets by selling athletic shoes and watches.

The company will introduce a third shoe line by the end of the year--including an "urban assault combat boot" dubbed "Das Boot." It also will expand its watch line, adding seven new styles.

Demonstrating its determination not to be pigeonholed, Oakley displayed one of its limited edition, solid gold, $25,000 watches in the foyer.

Chief Operating Officer Link Newcomb blamed the flagging share price on investor concern over the company's prospects as a shoemaker. Erasing that uncertainty is a top priority, he said.

Oakley's stock, which hit a 52-week high of $14.88 last July, closed Friday at $7.81, down 6 cents a share, on the New York Stock Exchange.

The new store opens July 2 at Irvine Spectrum Center.

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