Value footwear retailer Shoe Zone expects to open five stores per season across the UK, up to 10 of which may be former Maplin units.
Shoe Zone chief executive Nick Davis said Maplin stores were “a good fit” for the company: “We are looking at 10 Maplin stores over the next 18 months. The stores are typically 4,000 sq ft to 5,000 sq ft of sales floor space, which works well for us.”
Describing Shoe Zone as relatively insulated from the economic cycle, he said that loss-making stores had fallen to only 5% of the estate. Fewer than 25 stores now post negative results, in the region of £10,000 per store.
Shoe Zone has announced rising profits and revenues for the six months to 31 March, as its “big box” store format and increasing online sales helped fuel growth. Revenues inched up 1.1% to £73.7m for the period, while statutory profit before tax reached £1m, compared with £300,000 for the same period in 2017.
Davis noted that the retailer had managed to negotiate good deals on lease renewals, and secured new lease reductions of 22% on average: “We have had good overall profit and loss numbers … The main reason is the flexible portfolio. Our average lease length is 2.2 years, and average leases [across retail] are around five years. We are able to move relatively cheaply, with fit-out costs ranging from £60k to £80k per store.
”Of 19 renewals over last six months, only one store went up, four were negotiated at nil [change in rents] and 14 were reduced, with pretty chunky reductions in Lancaster and Lowestoft.”