Stylo is to kick-start a radical recovery strategy for its Barratts chain under its new “dream team” management.
The footwear multiple will shift slightly upmarket, bringing in new brands to boost its fashion credentials and balance its own label offer.
It has also engaged design agency Dalziel + Pow to develop a radical new shopfit and will completely overhaul the Barratts fascia, including replacing its black, white and red colour palette.
Stylo chairman and chief executive Michael Ziff said he was seeking licensing deals and exclusive supply agreements with brands to support the retailer’s overhaul and give Barratts a point of difference. He has drafted in Lynsey Hand, one of the industry’s leading footwear buyers and product developers, to advise his buying team.
Ziff added that the reincarnated Barratts would target slightly older customers, but sit just below Clarks in terms of pricing.
The overhaul comes as the footwear sector sinks further into decline. The future of both the Stead & Simpson and Dolcis chains still hung in the balance this week as Drapers went to press.
Ziff said that given the current turbulent economic climate, investment in Barratts was critical to take advantage of competitors in turmoil.
The Barratts project is being spearheaded by Ziff’s new “premier league” management team. Barratts managing director Dave Patrick is working alongside non-executive directors David Lockyer and David Spitz.
They are joined by Richard Wharton, the footwear veteran behind the Office, Poste and Qube concepts.
Ziff said he may choose to strengthen the management team further ahead of the relaunch. “At a time like this you need great people in your business,” he added.
Stylo is selling off footwear retailer Shellys to help finance the Barratts revamp, which will debut at stores in Croydon, Liverpool, London’s White City development and the Meadowhall shopping centre in Sheffield.
A further six shops will be refitted after a trial period. The refurbs will cost an average of £150,000 per store.
Last month, Drapers reported that Stylo was thought to be looking for a price of between £1 million and £2m for the Shellys brand (Drapers, December 8).
Shellys has three stores and competes with the likes of Schuh and Office.
Barratts will also unveil a new internet operation after Easter. Ziff said Barratts remained one of the most searched-for footwear terms on the web.
Separately, Clarks’ parent company C&J Clark dismissed reports that it was considering a merger with Stylo. The parties are not believed to have held talks about a deal.
Stylo reported pre-tax losses of £7m for the year to February 2, 2007, on sales of £240m.
Footwear supplier The Jacobson Group bought 25 Famous Footwear outlets from Stead & Simpson last week and will use them to clear stock.
The group will also resurrect Ravel as a wholesale label this year after it bought the name from Clarks.