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Shoe Zone will bounce back, vows chief executive

Shoe Zone’s chief executive Anthony Smith is confident the value footwear retailer will get back on track following a difficult few months, thanks to adjustments made to its buying strategy.

The retailer this week revealed its pre-tax profit fell 26% to £2m in the six months to April 4, as sales were hit by the planned closure of nine stores and difficult trading conditions brought on by the mild weather last autumn.

While sales volumes were up, the balance shifted towards sales of cheaper items, such as ankle boots, rather than longer-length, more expensive boots. Smith told Drapers: “The problem we had with autumn 14 was down to average pricing. We are now buying less at the lower and top end of the ranges and more in the middle; I’m confident that will solve the problem.

“We have also made adjustments to the buy, particularly in women’s. We have bought slightly more ankle boots.” But he is wary of shifting the balance too far in favour of transitional items: “When we have a cold winter people will want to buy longer boots again.”

He added: “We have had a good April so we know what will sell well for summer and have placed repeats.”

Shoe Zone is also continuing the rationalisation of its store portfolio. It closed nine stores during the first half and will shut a similar number in the second, four of which will be relocated. It will open an additional four stores by the end of the year.

By the end of the period, the retailer had 541 stores and Smith said this would decrease to 530 over the long term.

It launched an evolution of its store concept in Meadowhall shopping centre, Sheffield, on June 6. “It has been trading exceptionally well since,” said Smith.

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