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Sell-off on the cards at Stead & Simpson

Stead & Simpson is understood to be close to selling its Lilley & Skinner, Famous Footwear and Peter Briggs businesses amid rumours of tough trading.

The footwear giant is thought to be offloading its non-core chains to focus on turning around its Stead & Simpson business and its Shoe Express operation, which it is converting to a new fascia called Pose.

The sale of the Lilley & Skinner and Famous Footwear chains, which are predominantly factory outlets, is thought to be imminent, but the identity of the buyer is unclear. Jacobson Group, which owns Gola, was linked to a deal, but managing director Harvey Jacobson told Drapers he was not involved.

A deal involving Stead & Simpson's Peter Briggs chain is also thought to be in the offing, although nothing had been confirmed as Drapers went to press. A sale is not expected to complete until next year.

Stead & Simpson unveiled a strategy overhaul and £30 million refinancing plan under new chief executive David White in April this year. It followed a disastrous 2006 when the firm posted pre-tax losses of £3.3m against a profit of £5.8m the previous year. Sales fell from 141.5m to £138.1m over the period to December 31 2006.

Stead & Simpson declined to comment.

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