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Finish Line Executive Case Paper

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In 1976, two friends, Alan Cohen and David Klapper, partnered to run a franchise called Athlete's Foot. Athlete's Foot was a large athletic footwear business. By 1981, Cohen and Klapper's vision had grown larger than what Athlete's Foot was able to contain. Therefore, in 1981, Cohen and Klapper decided to open their own company as a spin off of Athlete's Foot. They decided to call it Finish Line. At the time of Finish Line's start up, Cohen and Klapper still maintained 10 Athlete's Foot stores. After the first Finish Line stores were opened, Cohen and Klapper converted all previous Athlete's Foot stores into Finish Line stores in 1986 when their franchises expired. As of 2002, Finish line was the second largest athletic retailer with over 550 stores in 46 states.

Finish Line's success can be attributed to many things, such as, great knowledge of the athletic industry, structured growth, superior executive leadership, and great following of a well thought out mission. This mission states, "Finish Line will provide the best selection of sport inspired footwear, apparel and accessories to fit the fast culture of action addicted individuals." Finish Line's success has come via many milestones throughout their history. Finish Line's milestones are documented in the following timeline.

Finish Line Timeline

* October 1976 - Finish Line opens its doors for the first time as a chain of the Athlete's Foot.

* 1981 - Two additional partners, Dave Fagin and Larry Sablosky, are brought on board, and the first Finish Line stores are opened.

* 1986 - The Athlete's Foot franchise expires, and all Athlete's Foot stores are converted to Finish Line.

* October 1991 - Finish Line opens 100th store. Stores are located primarily in the Midwest

* 1992 - Finish Line becomes a publicly traded company traded on NASDAQ (FINL).

* July 1995 - Finish Line opens 200th store.

* November 1997 - Finish Line opens 300th store.

* February 1999 - Finish Line hits a record $500 million in sales (for Fiscal 1998).

* July 1999 - Finish Line records its first online sales on

* September 1999 - Finish Line opens 400th store.

* 2002 - Finish Line becomes the second largest athletic retailer (based on sales revenues), and expands the company to over 480 stores across the nation.

* June 10, 2003 - Finish Line breaks ground on $20 million expansion to its Indianapolis based corporate headquarters and distribution center.

* July 18, 2003, Finish Line senior executives open the NASDAQ market

* August 2003 - Finish Line opens 500th store

In addition to the events listed on the timeline, Finish Line continues to succeed and create news in their industry. Most recently, Finish Line hired New York based 'Heavy', an advertising firm, to help develop a new commercial advertising that Finish Line is the best destination for the best selection of athletic footwear. Finish Line has also announced that they are paying dividends on all class A and class B stock. They are also instituting a stock buy-back of 2.5 million dollars worth of class A stock which is about ten percent of all outstanding stock. Dating back to June 2004, Finish Line also filed suit against rival Footlocker for a spy plot. This was where Footlocker was being accused of recruiting Finish Line employees to retrieve secret sales information. Finally, in June 2004 Finish Line announced a 62 percent rise in earnings for the first quarter.

Finish Line has done an excellent job of expressing their company's mission and vision. Stated below, are Finish Line's specific mission and vision statements, which we feel are large contributors to their continued success. Finish Line's strategies of implementing these ideas financially and strategically are also well thought out and as well as very relevant.

Mission Statement

Finish Line will provide the best selection of sport inspired footwear, apparel and accessories to fit the fast culture of action addicted individuals.

Strategic Visioning at Finish Line

Over the past three years, Finish Line has given clear indications that it envisions itself pursuing new objectives in business. The following is a listing of opportunities that contribute to what would be Finish Line's vision statement.

* 2002

The Finish Line "Blue Label" is released and the vision is to develop it as a product relevant to core consumers.

* 2003

Finish Line decided that there was a need to devote a larger amount of sales anticipation and shelf space to "active-wear and accessories" since the possibility for profit margin is possibly higher than those in footwear.

* 2004

It had been determined that the future success of Finish Line is closely tied to the integrity and premium value of the brand names that it represents (Source 1). 2004 also brought forth the planning of 60 new stores and 25 store remodels. A revised multi-channel sales approach has been developed emphasizing three components: the Internet (, Finish Line Magalog, and the 531 Store Locations for Direct-to-Consumer Sales.

In hopes of increasing productivity as a whole, Finish Line made plans to increase inventory productivity, which is currently measured by sales per square foot. From 2003 to 2004, this number increased on an average of nineteen percent in Finish Line stores.

Strategic Objectives - Finish Line's Operating Strategy

(1) Emphasis on Customer Service and Convenience

Finish Line strives to be the best location in the mall



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