Blog: Trouble afoot for specialist shoe outlets

Joe Ayling | 27 January 2009

Footwear retail group Stylo has added its Barratts and Priceless shoe chains to a growing list of UK style retailers to enter administration this year.

The news will shock many a young man or woman who remembers being sized up for their first pair of shiny leather shoes at Barratts over the years.

Retailers USC, Adams and Officer's Club have all taken the same measures as the economic downturn takes full effect.

Specialist footwear chains were no strangers to turmoil even before the current financial blitz and less than a year ago Stylo itself took UK rival Dolcis out of administration, but only after administrators closed 89 of the company's 185 branches and made 482 staff redundant.

Stores like Dolcis have become increasingly vulnerable amid an influx of value and fast fashion retailers to the high street selling shoes at competitive prices and allowing shoppers to browse for clothing and footwear at the same time.

In order to try and compete Stylo sold its shoe brand Shellys to Eternal Best Industries Limited of Hong Kong in March, looking to focus on Barratts and Priceless for growth.

All in all, Barratts and Priceless consist of 400 stores in the UK employing 5,450 people, who will be hoping Stylo's attempts to enter a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) with creditors will succeed.

If it does Stylo still knows that competition in the footwear market is rife, and that it will need to focus its efforts on the people and places that want an old fashioned shoe buying experience more than ever.

By Joe Ayling, news editor.


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