Sheehan & Associates, P.L.C.

Shinola plans to grow internationally, but stay rooted in Detroit

A Detroit retailer that opened its flagship store this summer is attracting big attention and already has plans for expansion in other major cities in the U.S. and abroad. Shinola is already making a name for itself, rating a place in "Departures," American Express's magazine, as one of the 100 "people, places and things around the globe that matter now."

All of this means more jobs and production for Detroit. The company is headquartered in New Center. Its Detroit store is in Midtown. The company's chief executive officer says he planning to rent a warehouse in the area that will be the company's distribution center.

Shinola plans to expand and diversify its product lines. This includes its watches. The company made 45,000 in 2013, including 1,000 limited-edition timepieces especially made for another Motor City native - the Ford Mustang, which marked its 50th anniversary this year. It plans to increase production and add styles.

Shinola has already ventured out beyond watches and bikes. It has started making leather products and will sell its own jeans this year. The Shinola name is being used on everything from journals to candles to Shinola Cola – and of course, shoe polish. Shinola, as "Departures" notes, was famous for its shoe polish, which it sold through the 1950s. This growth has already resulted in a five-fold increase in staff, from approximately 40 to 200 people.

Despite his ambitious expansion plans, the CEO says he and his team want to "build, make, and do more all within the city and confines of Michigan." One retail analyst notes that this pride in Detroit is part of the brand's appeal. The analyst notes that the company is "poised to become a Detroit-born fashion and lifestyle brand with international appeal." That international appeal will be tested in cities including London and Berlin, if all goes as planned, as well as Chicago, Minneapolis and Washington, D.C. Shinola already has a New York store.

As the people at Shinola are no doubt learning, each state has varying business laws and regulations, as, of course, do other countries. When a company's business planning includes geographic expansion, it's essential that it abides by those regulations. If it doesn't, it could find itself paying a significant amount of its revenue in fines, penalties and damages. A good legal team can work to avoid that and help ensure a smooth company expansion.

Source: The Detroit News, "Shinola poised for global expansion in 2014" Michael Martinez, Dec. 28, 2013

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