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Instep reaches the end of the road

Children's footwear retailer Instep has gone into administration, with rival chain European Sole understood to have snapped up 10 of the business's stores.

Instep collapsed two weeks ago after experiencing cash flow difficulties, said sources close to the operation. As a result, 96 members of staff have been made redundant.

According to industry sources, Instep, which had 29 stores and concessions across the country, has sold 10 shops to European Sole, while One Small Step One Giant Leap has taken over the Instep concession in Harrods.

Instep's House of Fraser concessions are understood to have been shut down.

The remaining 17 Instep stores have also closed, including those branded Start-rite at Instep.

Instep bought 17 Start-rite shops in 2003 when the kids' footwear brand moved out of the retail market.

The owner of one children's footwear label said the upmarket retailer had been squeezed out of business by the competitive kids' footwear climate. "European Sole has bought most of the stores and a couple of chains were in the bidding for the business," he explained. "It's tough out there."

The retailer sold own-brand footwear alongside designer labels including Kenzo and Timberland, as well as a range of school footwear from Kickers, Pods and Ricosta.

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