The Dune Group Ltd has launched a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) proposal as the UK footwear retailer looks for a "vital lifeline" amid its struggles to continue operating through lockdown.

Advisers KPMG said in a statement that, in common with other non-essential high street retailers, the company has been affected significantly by the impact of lockdown measures on customer footfall across its sites, which has hit footwear retailers particularly hard.

Founded in 1992 by CEO Daniel Rubin and beginning as a small concession store on London's Oxford Street, Dune now operates across 43 stores and 175 concessions and employs around 1,200 people.

With the likelihood of future trading continuing to be adversely affected by ongoing restrictions, KPMG says the company is undertaking a financial and operational restructuring programme, which is supported by its existing financial stakeholders with amended banking facilities, conditional on the approval of a CVA.

If approved, the CVA will see no immediate closures across the store estate but will see a number of sites move to a turnover-based rent.

"Before Covid-19 hit, the business was trading robustly, but the resulting lockdowns have had, and continue to have, a severe financial impact," said Daniel Rubin, founder and CEO of The Dune Group. "We are profoundly grateful for the support shown by our key stakeholders since the start of the pandemic, but with so much uncertainty still surrounding the outlook for non-essential retail, we're now in a position where we need to seek additional support if we are to protect our business.

"The CVA provides us with much needed flexibility so that we can emerge on the other side of this crisis in the best shape possible."

He added: "After 28 years of successfully growing the business, this is not an action that we wished to take. However, although we have seen exceptional growth in our online business, it hasn't been sufficient to offset the loss of sales from our stores being closed.

"We remain firmly committed to the high street, and indeed, in the longer term, our strategy is to grow our high street presence and adapt our business model with our concessions partners."

Will Wright and Chris Pole from KPMG's restructuring practice are the proposed nominees of the CVA.

Wright, head of regional restructuring at KPMG, said: "While there is increasing hope that restrictions will be eased later in the spring, the reality is that a number of high street operators have little option but to take urgent steps to address their fixed cost base now if they are to make it through the next few months. The proposals launched by Dune are no exception, and if approved, would give the company that vital lifeline to see them through the uncertain weeks and months ahead."

A CVA is an insolvency procedure that allows a company to reach a voluntary agreement with its business creditors to repay its debts to avoid going bust.