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New owner vows to boost brand mix at Edwards

Heritage footwear retailer Edwards of Manchester is revamping its brand mix and store following a buyout of the business in May this year.

Former footwear agent Steve Fitzsimmons bought Edwards in May and has already implemented a new shopfit. Fitzsimmons used to sell footwear brands Solaro and Democrata to Edwards’ previous owner, Alan Clements.

He now plans to boost the men’s brand mix with more Northampton-made footwear and revamp the women’s collection.

Classic men’s brand Tricker’s will launch in the store for spring 09, joining the likes of Loake and Grenson, while the women’s footwear offer will be boosted by the likes of Bourne, Steve Madden and Pura López to add more of a fashion twist to the brand line-up.

The business, in the Barton Arcade on Deansgate, was founded in 1830, making it one of the oldest footwear stores in the country.

Fitzsimmons said: “I haven’t bought a shop, I’ve bought an institution. I think my store is the second oldest in the country. I am looking to change the look a little but nothing too drastic. The women’s footwear department on the top floor will be given a refit next year, depending on how the credit crunch pans out.”

Men’s footwear occupies the store’s basement, which has a traditional gentlemen’s club feel with Chesterfield armchairs and Goodyear Welt footwear. “We want to keep that private and cosy feel but are adding some contemporary fixtures,” said Fitzsimmons.

Men’s footwear accounts for 70% of sales, with shoppers visiting the store from across the UK. “The plan is to make women’s more of a destination too,” added Fitzsimmons. “We are changing the brands we carry and taking the offer upmarket. Price points will be a bit higher and the brands we stock will be more exclusive.”

Edwards launched a transactional website two weeks ago and will tweak its online offer over the coming months. The site currently sells only men’s footwear but women’s will be added for spring 09.

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