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Women's mainstream footwear - Footwear from the Far East grows in popularity as quality improves

Mainstream women's footwear retailers polled for this week's Indicator have praised the quality of footwear produced in the Far East. Although most believe that Germany is home to the highest-quality manufacturers, the price points delivered by suppliers from the Far East are becoming ever more appealing.

Francis Parry, owner of Parry Shoes in Pembroke Dock, south Wales, said: "The country of origin for shoes has no effect on the quality. Companies such as Clarks are manufacturing products in Asia, but they're using state-of-the-art machinery, so where they're made has no effect, and it certainly doesn't bother the customers."

John Rouse, partner at James Shoes in Newcastle upon Tyne, agreed: "The shoe engineering of the Far East manufacturers that we carry is excellent. The shoes they produce are cheap, but they are not rubbish, as was historically the case."

This contrasts with the men's footwear, market, where higher-priced, long-lasting quality shoes have become more popular among shoppers. Rebecca Davidson, creative and development manager at Hamish Munro in Aberdeen, said: "We've stopped selling men's shoes because they last too long. Our customers were returning about every three years for a new pair, or they only bought them in the Sales."

TOP 10

Name your best-selling brand of the week

1. Gabor

2. Rieker

3. Van Dal

4. Padders

5. Ecco

6. Hotter Comfort Concept

7. Equity

8. Clarks

9. Rohde

10. Josef Seibel

TOP 5

Name your best-selling style for the week

1. Casual comfort

2. Long boot

3. Ankle boot

4. Court shoe

5. Evening shoe

TOP 5

Name your best-selling boot brand for the week

1. Gabor

2. Clarks

3. Equity

4. Hotter Comfort Concept

5. Padders

What is the most expensive item you have sold in store this week?

£250 - Salvatore Ferragamo boots at Bishops Footwear in Coleraine, Northern Ireland

FASHION IN FIGURES

How does your week's business compare with this time last year?

30% - Better

22% - Same

Worse - 48%

AUTUMN 07 BUYING

Which shows will you be visiting for autumn 07 buying?

Moda Footwear - 74%

Kensington Shoe Event - 12%

Micam - 12%

GDS - 6%

Expo Riva Schuh - 4%

Modacalzado - 2%

WSA - 2%

None - 10%

How many shows will you visit for autumn 07 buying? - 1

Do you intend to write orders at shows?

Yes - 33%

No - 67%

On average, how many new labels do you hope to find for autumn 07? - 1

What brand is on your autumn 07 wish list?

1. Gabor

2. Rieker

3. Van Dal

QUICKFIRE QUESTIONS

In which price bracket are most of your sales?

£30 to £50 - 42%

£51 to £70 - 50%

£71 to £90 - 6%

£91 plus - 2%

Do you have an own-label collection?

Yes - 16%

No - 84%

Which country makes the highest-quality women's footwear?

Germany - 54%

Italy - 20%

Spain - 12%

Portugal - 7%

China - 7%

What percentage of your sales are multiple purchases? - 15%

Do you sell both men's and women's footwear?

Yes - 96%

No - 4%

How many years has your store been trading?

1 to 10 - 16%

11 to 20 - 18%

21 to 30 - 11%

31 to 40 - 11%

41 to 70 - 20%

71 to 100 - 8%

101 to 200 - 14%

201 plus - 2%

Drapers spoke to 50 independents about their women's mainstream footwear business for the week ending January 20.

Brands and styles appearing in the lists, including the Top 10 and Top 5, are ranked when mentioned by five or more retailers.

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