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Firms told: Concentrate on acquisitions By Louise Cordell FOOTWEAR companies with capital to spare should be concentrating on acquisitions according to a new industry study. Research from analysts, Plimsoll Publishing, has suggested that a record number of companies are losing money and overall business values are now worth less than half what they were 12 months ago. However, the research shows that this may also give some stores the chance to cash in on the opportunity of a generation. David Pattison, senior analyst, said: “What we have identified is a group of ‘wounded animals’. “Many of these businesses have a long and distinguished history, but their recent performance has deteriorated. “By definition these are classic acquisitions and anyone looking to grow their own company should be looking for businesses

that are currently undervalued yet, with help, can be turned around.” The study rated each of the UK’s leading 1,000 footwear companies on their ‘acquisition attractiveness’. It found that 189 companies are ‘ripe for the picking’ based on a combined scoring system, incorporating overall financial strength, ownership, valuation and future potential. These 189 companies are all privately owned, but show a serious deterioration in their financial performance. David added: “The current market conditions have presented an unprecedented set of opportunities to buy into a business that even a year ago would have been unaffordable. “We know of at least 431 companies within the industry who have the cash to spend, and could aid these 189 ailing business and ensure their survival.”

Crocs has launched a new footwear collection which has been designed to improve recovery after exercise. The three styles in the Prepair range have been created to increase blood flow to the foot and leg muscles to help relieve pain and tiredness following a workout. The footbed has been designed to spread pressure evenly to prevent pressure points forming and have been treated with silver particles to make the shoe anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. Crocs carried out testing of the range with over 350 athletes and over 58 per cent believed that the footwear gave them more relief after activity than their current shoes.

Beatrix Ong has created a shoe exclusively for English National Ballet. Glare for English National Ballet is a signature Beatrix Ong design in champagne metallic leather based on the colour of a pointe shoe. The Ballet’s dancers were recently part of Beatrix Ong’s Autumn/Winter campaign with four of the performers modelling her latest collection. During the shoot, the dancers were also filmed dancing in her summer collection shoes. Sally Muckely, English National Ballet director of development, said: “A dancer’s feet are a truly amazing thing; they are such an important part of what makes a ballerina beautiful. “Beatrix’s shoes are perfect for hard working dancers’ feet as they are both comfortable and very stylish.”

Jobs saved in sell-off OVER 50 jobs have been saved with the announcement that Mr Shoes Limited has been sold. The company was placed into administration in June with David Whitehead and Bob Rose from Larking Gowen being appointed joint administrators. However, it has now been bought by Glayone Limited which was formed by the previous directors of Mr Shoes Limited. David Whitehead said: “We are delighted with the completion of this sale which will preserve 53 jobs at its head office and warehouse function in Dereham and in the nine stores that will continue trading.

A new collection of cross trainers has been launched by performance brand Scarpa. The company already produces a selection of walking mountaineering and climbing boots and has now released the Alpine X range. The design has been created to allow the wearer to move quickly and comfortably in a variety of different environments and on a range of terrains. Trail Plate technology has been used to make the shoes light yet supportive and all designs feature breathable uppers and low profile, abrasion resistant toes.

“It is of course unfortunate that some of the stores have had to close with job losses but the company was a victim of the recession that is affecting many UK retailers.” Mr Shoes’ stores will continue to trade in: Norwich, Red Lion Street and St Stephens, Kingston, Wimbledon, Oxford, Bristol, Leamington Spa, Bury St Edmunds and Peterborough.

Retailers are still managing to expand OVER the last few months many independent retailers have started to feel more optimistic about the financial climate. However, a recent warning from credit ratings agency Fitch has claimed that any improvements are actually unsustainable and that store owners should not expect a lasting recovery until at least 2011. The firm attributes the temporary boost to a combination of Easter shopping, good weather and many shops’ early sales. It also pointed out that stores may find it even harder to cut back on promotions like this in the future, because shoppers will come to expect price cuts, and will be unwilling to spend if they are not provided. Despite this, many retailers are still managing to expand and improve their sales. One of these is London’s Black Truffle boutique, which sells quirky and unique footwear and accessories and was named Best New Store at this year’s Drapers Footwear Awards. In this issue, Out On A Limb speaks to the shop’s founder Melissa Needham to find out how she has used her expertise to expand into training, her thoughts on design and manufacture in the UK and all of her latest plans aimed at continuing the brand’s success.


Out On A Limb (Issue 54)  

The trade magazine for the UK's footwear and accesories market.