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SAN FRANCISCO-Brown Shoe, the St. Louis-based owner of the 933-store Famous Footwear chain is diversifying its business for future growth, said Andrew Rosen, the company’s senior vice president and CFO, yesterday at Bank of America’s Annual Investment Conference. “We’re pretty broadly based and becoming much more balanced,” he said.

For a few years until 2001, Brown Shoe’s revenues hovered around $1.7 billion. This year executives expect sales to reach $2.3 billion. One move that has helped, Rosen said, was increasing wholesale to 40% of its business from 30%. The rest of the company’s sales are through its retail channels.

Brown Shoe has a presence in most US discount- and department-store chains. One way it has ramped up that aspect of its business was the acquisition, in April, of footwear designer Bennett Footwear Holding for $205 million.

Another plan to improve business that officials announced earlier this year was the closing of about 80 of its 300 Naturalizer women’s retail shoe stores. However, the firm is opening 30 outlet units in North America over the next three years.

In Brown Shoe’s most recent quarter, which ended July 30, the company’s sales rose 20.2%, to $551.5 million. Year-over-year same-store sales for Famous Footwear increased 2.2%.

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