Dundee-based DE Shoes puts 31 stores up for sale

ONE of Scotland’s oldest retail chains has put its 31 stores on the market after admitting it was facing difficulties.

Dundee-based DE Shoes, whose parent company William Smith Shoes was founded 146 years ago, had launched a consultation period with staff in January when it said trading conditions were very tough.

Robert Sinclair, managing director of William Smith, said the sale of either the whole business or individual branches was the best way to “avoid or reduce the need to make redundancies” among its 200-strong workforce.

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Sinclair said that, since the news about the problems facing DE Shoes was first announced, visitors to the branches had increased significantly.

“Many people have said they do not want to lose the shoe shop that has served generations of the same family,” he said. “This is now a great opportunity for someone to come forward and take over their local shoe shop.

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“I am keen to talk to anyone interested and provide more information. Ongoing support may even be available to anyone taking on a branch.”

Graham & Sibbald has been appointed selling agent for the company’s property portfolio including sites in Banff, Blairgowrie, Buckie, Castle Douglas, Cowdenbeath, Crieff, Cupar, Dingwall, Dumfries, Forres, Fort William, Invergordon, Inverness, Keith, Nairn, Newton Stewart, Oban, St Andrews, Stonehaven, Stranraer, Thurso and Wick.

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The group’s Foot Factory stores in Aberdeen and Dundee are also affected.

The business was founded in the Overgate in Dundee in 1867 by Robert Sinclair’s great great grandfather, William Smith.

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The company was originally known as William Smith Wholesale Boot Manufacturer and later traded as the Dundee Equitable Boot Depot.