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Clarks launches review of store portfolio

Clarks is launching a review of its 550-strong UK and Ireland store portfolio as part of an efficiency drive.

The footwear business has appointed property consultancy Harper Dennis Hobbs to advise on its estate and ensure stores are the right size and in the right location.

Drapers understands the review will not represent a drastic shake-up of its stores and that Clarks is committed to the high street, but it is looking for the best deal in the face of rising rents and rates.

New chief executive Mike Shearwood is understood to have pushed the button on the initiative after joining the company in September last year. He was CEO of Karen Millen from 2009 until 2015 and replaced Melissa Potter at Clarks, who left in September 2015.

Shearwood said he was looking for the “best possible property portfolio that meets our status as a desired retailer that delivers profit in locations where others can’t”.

Clarks’ group operating profit fell 59% to £45.8m for the year to 31 January 2016, after a combination of “over-ambitious business plans” and an “excessive focus on short-term performance” led to a “significant” amount of excess inventory.

In February last year, as exclusively reported by Drapers, the firm restructured its UK team, resulting in 170 redundancies.

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