Shoe Zone is swooping on up to 10 former Brantano stores as the retailer accelerates its roll-out of big box sites.

The value footwear business is bidding to snap up the parcel of larger, out-of-town locations as it ramps up efforts to diversify its store portfolio.

Shoe Zone’s rival Brantano plunged into administration in March, leaving the future of its 73 stores and 64 concessions hanging in the balance.

Shoe Zone had previously been touted as a possible buyer of the entire business, but owners Alteri failed to find a suitor and its stores have started to disappear from the high street.

But Shoe Zone boss Nick Davis said that had presented the retailer with “an opportunity” to grow its own estate.

Speaking after Shoe Zone posted a drop in pre-tax profit during the six months to April 1, Davis told Retail Week: “There certainly are some stores we can pick up. We have taken the decision just to talk directly with landlords, who are hungry because they are getting a fair few units back now.

“We are targeting around 10 stores, but are quite well progressed on five ex-Brantano stores.”

Big box ambitions

Davis said all of the ex-Brantano sites were around 5,000 sq ft in size, which fits Shoe Zone’s desired size for big-box locations.

He admitted that Shoe Zone had been “slightly slower on our big box roll out than we had previously hoped to be,” but said it now had “a really good pipeline” coming up.

“With Brantano disappearing off the high street fairly recently, that brings quite a lot of opportunity for us”

Nick Davis, Shoe Zone

Shoe Zone had three of the big-box shops open at its half year and has since launched its first high street big-box format in Aberdeen.

The retailer aims to have 10 of the larger stores operating by September and wants to open a further 10 next year.

Davis said: “It’s difficult at this stage to say how big the chain could be, but we think it could be of a material size.

“So far I haven’t seen any signs of cannibalisation with the few that we have opened, so I think there is lots of opportunity in very different spaces to where our existing Shoe Zone chain trades.

“With Brantano disappearing off the high street fairly recently, that brings quite a lot of opportunity for us.”

Davis said Shoe Zone will continue to close unprofitable stores, but insisted that will “hopefully be matched by an equal number of openings.”