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Editor's Comment: Footwear's finest march onwards

This week we took the opportunity to celebrate the best that the footwear sector has to offer at the Drapers Footwear Awards. Held at Grosvenor House in London, the awards highlight achievements of footwear brands, businesses and individuals over the last 12 months.

The footwear sector has not been immune to industry challenges and, as with other sectors of the market, changing consumer behaviour, the increase in digital shopping, impending Brexit and, of course, the weather have combined to form tough trading conditions.

We’ve seen some casualties, including Shuropody, which announced in May it was planning to enter into a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) for the second time in just over a year, and Bells Shoes winding down its online business after Clarks decided in February not to continue supplying it.

Clarks has faced its own challenges as it reported a loss after tax of £31.3m for the year to 31 January. However, CEO Mike Shearwood is confident in his turnaround plan, which includes a new segmented brand strategy, reduction of discounting and managing inventory on a real-time basis.

More positive news in the sector comes from Shoe Zone, which announced rising profits and revenues for the six months to 31 March, as well as an ambition to open five stores per season across the UK. JD Sports posted another set of record results, and the sports footwear market showed no signs of slowing down, as Adidas global revenues jumped 16% for the full year 2017 and Selfridges launched a new 1,776 sq ft area for women’s sneakers at its Oxford Street flagship. 

New collections in the sector come from James Parker, the founder of sportswear brand Gym King, who is launching a new fashion footwear brand with former Big Brother participant Alex Cannon. Independent streetwear label Hype released its first sneaker range in April and is being sold across all of Schuh’s 135 stores. JD Sports entered an agreement to buy US sports retailer The Finish Line and VF Corporation acquired performance footwear brand Altra.

This level of activity in the footwear market shows just how quickly the sector is moving – but also highlights some really positive developments. Acquisitions, new launches and rising sales prove that despite a turbulent market, success can be achieved. It was a pleasure to celebrate many of those successes this week at the Drapers Footwear Awards, and, once again, huge congratulations to all of our winners. 



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