Family footwear business Johnsons Shoe Company has appointed administrators as a result of the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
The business, which runs Johnsons Shoes and Bowley’s Fine Shoes, appointed Ian Defty and Richard Toone of CVR Global as joint administrators on 23 April.
The family business was founded in 1952 and now has 12 stores across London and the south-east of England. All stores were temporarily closed as a result of coronavirus restrictions on 20 March.
Its non-transactional website shows that it stocks 27 brands, including Timberland, Sebago, Geox, Ugg, Clarks, Loake and Converse. The business sells men’s and women’s shoes as well as footwear for schoolchildren.
Johnsons Shoe Company’s 145 staff will remain furloughed while the administrators seek a buyer. There have already been a “number of expressions of interest” according to joint administrator Defty.
Drapers understands that all interest has come from either footwear companies or other retailer businesses and that a decision is hoped to be made this week.
Defty said: “Due to the Coronavirus pandemic and lockdown Johnsons Shoe Company lost its ability to continue trading, and it was the final nail in the coffin for a business that was already struggling before the pandemic struck, like many other retailers.
“The business has traded strongly for many years, but last year was particularly difficult for them as they battled with rising rent and business rates, combined with the increasing competition from online shopping.
“The business’s products have mass family appeal, and if it can attract a buyer who can help it to adapt and trade, possibly via online channels, then it has a strong chance of continuing the strong legacy it has built up over the decades.”
However, a source from one brand told Drapers he was surprised at the news.
”From the outside, it looked like there were no real problems,” he said. “I know they were doing pretty good trade up until Covid-19, and it’s a business that is in lots of good middle-class areas. The buying team are always super professional and buy relatively conservatively and well. However, they have no online business.”
Commenting on the impact of administration he added: ”On its own, out of our total turnover, it’s relatively small but in terms of strategic positioning, it was relatively important. The problem is that at the moment outside of Office, Schuh and JD Sports, there aren’t many more big accounts around, so what most of us were doing was going around find these nice mini-chains like Johnsons. So it’s where do you replace that business because the reality is there are very few other people to go and replace it with. ”
The news comes amid administrations across the industry with the coronavirus crisis impacting cashflow and sales.
Drapers yesterday revealed that womenswear marketplace Little Black Dress has been bought out of administration by private investment firm Fashion Ventures Limited in a pre-pack deal.