Up-for-sale shoe retail group Stead & Simpson is to create a new format for its eponymous stores using design consultancy Caulder Moore.

The move comes as the struggling retailer weighs up its options for a sale of the business, as exclusively revealed by Retail Week (December 21). This could include a sale of its entire business, a break-up of the company, or administration. PricewaterhouseCoopers is handling the sale and Stead & Simpson was expected to receive first-round bids this week.

Caulder Moore’s design will debut at the retailer’s 1,400 sq ft Oakham store, in Leicestershire, in March. The format is intended to be rolled out to all Stead & Simpson-branded stores.

Caulder Moore creative director Ian Caulder said the aim is to promote Stead & Simpson’s place as a selector of brands, rather than providing an environment where the brands dominate their surroundings. The design will be modular, so that it can be rolled out rapidly and the emphasis will be upon the female elements of the offer, although Stead & Simpson also sells men’s footwear. Caulder Moore won the design project following a pitch last summer.

Stead & Simpson – which includes the brands Shoe Express, Famous Footwear and Lilley & Skinner – registered a pre-tax loss of£2.9 million for the year to December 30, 2006, compared with a£6.2 million profit the year before. Sales fell from£141.5 million to£138.1 million over the period. PwC issued a sales prospectus for Stead & Simpson last month.

Many footwear retailers have struggled over the past year. Dolcis remains confident that it can avoid administration, after private equity backer Epic pulled out last month.

* Separately, Caulder Moore has been working with Marks & Spencer on its core menswear areas, its womenswear segmentation and the footwear and technology areas of its branches.