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Dolcis in administration

Beleaguered footwear retailer Dolcis has collapsed into administration after a long-running battle to save the business by owner John Kinnaird.

KPMG were appointed administrators of the 185-outlets business today. Joint administrators Brian Green, Allan Graham and Howard Smith from KPMG's restructuring practice are reviewing the business and will seek to continue to trade from as many of the stores as possible.

Green said: "Dolcis is a well recognised, long established high street brand so we are hopeful of finding a buyer for it."

He added: "Dolcis is to some extent a victim of the tough trading conditions in which the retail sector is currently operating. Earlier this month KPMG and the British Retail Consortium reported that footwear sales fell for the third consecutive month in December, with the mass market hit hardest, as even large discounts failed to tempt sufficient customers."

Green added: "There are, however, a significant number of positive factors about this business to make it an attractive acquisition and any interested parties should contact us for information."

Kinnaird had made several attempts to rescue Dolcis after its private equity backer Epic pulled out earlier this month. However last ditch talks with a potential new investor are understood to have failed last week.

One Dolcis supplier speculated Kinnaird would attempt to buy the business back out of administration but Kinnaird could not be reached this morning.

Farewell to another shoe specialist

Dolcis was founded in 1863 by John Upson who started selling shoes on Woolwich Town Market. He graduated to a shop soon afterwards which he called Upson, The Great Boot Provider.

In 1920 Dolcis floated on the stock market and began and kicked of an expansion trail but it eventually succumbed to the British Shoe Corporation which bought it in 1956. The chain went on to become one of the best known fashion footwear operators.

In 1998 Alexon bought the business, in a deal led by Alexon chief executive John Osborne, a former BSC director who was passionate about the Dolcis brand. Unfortunately the chain hit the rocks in the early noughties when value clothing chains such as New Look began aggressively entering the sector. Alexon sold the business to Scottish entrepreneur John Kinnaird in 2006 but it failed to recover from the New Look body-blow and a prolonged lack of investment. Epic, Kinnaird’s private equity backers pulled out earlier this month and the business collapsed today.

Readers' comments (1)

  • No surprise here really in these troubled times, It was a longshot that Dolcis could survive after the sale from Alexon. The brand had been starved of investment in shopfits for years and in the same way as Ravel many of the best sites had gone.

    At the show in Riva last weekend there were so many gloom and doom stories circulating that I wondered if we were selling shoes or collecting sad stores. At one time we had 3 buyers on the stand who all were in doubt about their jobs. The most important facit of all these changes is that people and families are implicated in these changes and many will find it hard ever to get jobs again

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