Unlikely. AE is already controlled by a private equity company, which means the cuts and streamlining have already occurred. Goldner Hawn bought AE in '06 and the typical time frame for a PE holding is 5-7 years, i.e. its just time to cash out. They bought in at $100M so even at the lower end of the valuation range, they've booked a healthy profit. With the sale of Loro Piana to LVMH last week, I'd imagine luxury company valuations are pretty rich right now which gives Goldner even more reason to sell. Unless Goldner has pulled a TXU, I'd imagine things will be business as usual after the sale.
rydenfan also brought up some good points. The other part of the equation is Paul. He has now taken a company that was on the decline and turned it around making it profitable and increasing market share. I really hope he stays on board instead of moving on to do the same for another company, which would be normal. Because of his Leadership and vision I think his shoes at AE would be hard to fill, pun not intended.
Ron Rider and Paul exchanged comments about this back in May of 2010 on Ron's blog.
Warning: Snip (Click to show)
I tend to fall into this camp as well. I seriously doubt that this is spelling the end of the company that we all enjoy so much. It is in all likelihood just "business as usual" where companies are bought and sold, largely to the ignorance of the populace, and not much visibly changes. Obviously exceptions to this abound, but I don't think it is fair to have a doomsday outlook on this. It isn't as if this is the first time AE has been bought/sold.
I would also contend that AE's business model doesn't really have much room for successful change in either direction, and thus, would make a bad investment for anyone seeking to buy them and change them.
In other words, if they increase their quality standards, prices will go up accordingly, which will cause them to start losing business to the other "high-end" shoe manufacturers that are more expensive (but still below $1,000). Paul himself has said that he doesn't consider the Goodyear-welted shoe manufacturers at higher price points than AE to be his competition. He considers his competition to be the cheaper, outsourced shoes that we all like to shun. AE caters to people who spend more "practical" amounts of money on shoes (which I realize is subjective). If they go higher-end, they will lose their grass-roots customer base of people who want and recognize quality, and are willing to invest in it up to a certain point, at the expense of gaining a smaller customer base of those who are willing to spend much more for smaller returns (insert all of the debates about whether Alden is much better than AE even though they are significantly more expensive).
Going down in quality doesn't make much sense either. The "cheap" men's shoe market doesn't need another company competing to sell dress shoes that are overpriced for what you get. Johnston & Murphy, Florsheim, and Cole-Haan put out enough shoes and are large enough companies, that trying to compete with them is senseless in my opinion.
Allen Edmonds fills a niche in the men's shoe market that has very little competition, which is why they are so successful. They have some of the best customer service in the business, and their "no-frills" approach to providing a high quality product at the lowest price point possible appeals to a very large amount of people. We all know that Paul has brought back AE from the brink of destruction by his methods just described, so why would a new investor buy them up and try to go back down the road towards what has been shown to be company suicide?