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Shake-up looms in footwear market

Almost £400 million of sales, equivalent to a 7.1% slice of the £5.6 billion footwear market, was up for grabs this week after further upheaval in the sector.

Barratts owner Stylo collapsed into administration, while JJB Sports prepared to appoint administrators at its Qube and Original Shoe Company chains, and Mosaic Fashions continued the hunt for a buyer for its Shoe Studio Group concession business, as Drapers went to press.

Stylo chairman and chief executive Michael Ziff was said this week to be working on a rescue deal for up to 200 of Stylo’s Barratts and Priceless stores, with support from Arcadia Group owner Sir Philip Green. Stylo operates concessions within Arcadia’s Dorothy Perkins business and Green is believed to have agreed to
Ziff retaining the concession operation if a rescue deal is successful. The concession operation is thought to be profitable.

Drapers has also learnt that Stylo rival Shoe Zone, the value footwear chain which was linked to a deal for Stylo earlier in the week, is unlikely to challenge Ziff by mounting a rival bid to buy Stylo from administrator Deloitte. One senior footwear director said: “There doesn’t seem to be much chance of Shoe Zone getting near the business at the moment. It would be interested in the stores though.”

According to research firm Verdict Research, Stylo had a 4.1% footwear market share in 2008, while Shoe Studio had 2.3%. Verdict Research estimated that Qube and Original Shoe Company had a combined 0.7% market share last year. Shoe Zone, which owns the Stead & Simpson and Shoefayre chains, is already the second largest footwear retailer in the UK with a 5.5% market share.

Meanwhile, footwear chains Dune and Office have continued to eye up Shoe Studio, which was put on the market last month. Both are believed to be taking time to investigate the business. A source familiar with the situation said Shoe Studio was “in a more difficult position than previously thought”.

Ironically, Dune owner Daniel Rubin decided to close his supply business Browning last week, saying it was no longer viable because of increased pressures on the UK footwear market. All existing orders will be honoured, and Rubin said he would retain a small men’s footwear supply operation.

Following reports that serial investor Jason Granite was looking at Qube and Original Shoe Company, John Kinnaird, who co-owns footwear chain Faith with Granite, said he had no personal interest in either business. Granite was unavailable for comment.

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