More than 20 parties are understood to have expressed interest in buying value footwear retailer Brantano UK since it collapsed into administration last week, putting 2,000 jobs at risk.
Brantano, which was sold by Macintosh Retail Group to Alteri Investors in October 2015, appointed Tony Barrell, Mike Jervis and Rob Hunt of PwC as joint administrators last Thursday (January 21).
The company, which has 140 stores and 60 concessions and employs around 200 people at its head office in Coalville, Leicestershire, blamed difficult trading conditions for the collapse. Brantano’s sister company Jones Bootmaker is unaffected.
It is thought that the 20 interested parties include a mix of private equity firms, footwear companies and intellectual property specialists. Some are interested in buying all or substantial parts of the business, while others are looking to snap up store leases and the IP rights.
The process for first round bids is expected to be completed by next week. Brantano continues to trade as usual.
Drapers understands rival value footwear chain Shoe Zone could be among the interested parties. The retailer recently expressed interest in acquiring larger, out-of-town stores.
“There are other out-of-town retailers that are in that space that aren’t doing a very good job at the moment and we think we could do it better,” Shoe Zone chief executive Anthony Smith told Drapers on January 13. Shoe Zone declined to comment further.
With speculation mounting for months over Brantano’s future, news of the administration failed to surprise the industry. One Brantano supplier said: “There had been rumours, especially after what happened with Macintosh [Brantano’s former owner filed for bankruptcy in December].
“We all know Jones is the jewel in the crown.”
Honor Westnedge, analyst for Verdict Retail, said: “There are so many more family value footwear retailers targeting the same consumer, so Brantano’s offer has become less relevant. And its out-of-town locations are less convenient. People can go to the grocers for children’s footwear, or Clarks, or even Schuh or Office. They all have a better offer for family than they used to.”
Jones, which has 110 shops and 13 concessions in the UK, made a pre-tax profit of £315,000 for the year to December 31 2014. It made sales after exceptional items of £79.9m.
Brantano lost £4.6m before tax last year, although sales increased by 6% to £100m.
Macintosh, which still owns the Brantano chain outside of the UK, as well as European footwear retailers Manfield, Invito and Dolcis, appointed JJMC Huppertz and BWGP Meijs as joint administrators on December 22 2015.