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Shoe Zone renews online focus after revenue falls

Shoe Zone will “roll back to basics” and focus on improving its ecommerce sales following a challenging year in which it exited a number of loss-making stores, its chief executive said today.

Nick Davis was speaking to Drapers after the value footwear retailer revealed that its revenue fell 1.3% year on year to £157.8m in the 52 weeks to 30 September.

He said the business would focus on improving online conversion in the next 12 months, in a bid to return to growth. Ecommerce revenue increased by 34% last year to £8.3m, and makes up 5.3% of the total. 

“Online has grown very well, but it is still a relatively small part of our business so there’s lots of potential,” said Davis. “We’re really trying to cement growth through conversion, and also [see that] all the new geographical markets are bedding well.

“We launched in the US during the year and are already operating in Europe across Amazon Marketplace, so we’ve very much trying to plough on on the online front.”

Shoe Zone shuttered 35 loss-making stores last year, which dented its sales. It opened 21 stores during the period, including six in its “big box” format.

Davis said the probability of further closures “depends on lease negotiations, and whether we can drive good rent deals”.

Of the 10 big box stores scheduled to open this year, one will be located in Dover, Kent, and another in Norton, Sheffield. Both are due to open this spring.

The value footwear retailer made a statutory pre-tax profit of £9.5m during the year, down 7.8% on 2016. It blamed the fall primarily on the weakness of sterling following the Brexit vote in 2016, which increased the cost of goods imported into the UK.

However, when asked about Brexit Davis insisted it was “business as usual” for Shoe Zone, as he was “confident we can adapt”. 

He added: “We know how to take the rough with the smooth, and our business model is pretty flexible. We’re focused on value; we’ll always be the cheapest and the best quality.”

Shoe Zone first trialled its Big Box store format in August 2016.

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