Shoe Zone has bought around 330 stores in total, comprising around 220 Stead & Simpson stores, up to 70 Shoe Express shops and up to 50 Peter Briggs stores for an undisclosed sum. Around 37 of the original Stead & Simpson portfolio will close.
Shoe Zone chief executive Anthony Smith sent a letter to suppliers today which said he planned to keep Stead & Simpson as a separate standalone business which would be run autonomously.
The deal has saved around 3,000 jobs in the footwear sector and will put Smith at the helm of almost 1,000 footwear outlets in the UK - by far the largest footwear operator by number of stores in the country. Last year, Smith bought Shoefayre from the Co-op Group giving him more than 650 outlets.
Stead & Simpson hired PriceWaterhouseCoopers to find a buyer for the beleaguered business at the end of last year, amid horrific trading conditions on the high street.
Stead & Simpson has already sold off 25 factory outlet stores trading as Famous Footwear to The Jacobson Group, which owns Gola, Ravel, Lotus and Frank Wright. It sold 12 of its branded shops to Clinkards last week.