Scottish footwear chain Schuh looks to slash store rents

The company has about 130 stores across UK and Ireland. Picture: Contributed
The company has about 130 stores across UK and Ireland. Picture: Contributed
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Schuh, the Livingston-headquartered footwear retailer, has hired a retail property consultancy as it looks to cut costs across its 130-store estate.

The move is likely to spark concerns about possible shop closures given other restructuring moves across the retail sector and comes just months after the company said it was pulling out of Germany to focus on its business closer to home.

However, a spokesperson stressed that the focus would be on reducing rent costs.

In a statement, Schuh and US parent Genesco said they had engaged consultancy Capa to reduce occupancy costs across its portfolio.

They added: “As a business we remain focused on delivering initiatives to further enhance customer experience, including our new transformational 2020 store design, CRM [customer relationship management] personalisation, driving brand awareness and continuing to offer our customers their favourite footwear brands and styles.”

Schuh, which was founded in 1981, announced in June that it was to pull out of Germany, laying part of the blame for the move on Brexit. The group noted that Germany was its first choice for European expansion outside the UK and Ireland with the first store opening in Oberhausen in 2015, followed by Ruhr Park later that year and Essen opening the following year.

“Over the past few years these markets have changed considerably in a constantly evolving retail landscape, not least with the impact of Brexit,” it added. The firm’s German website will continue to trade, with all orders fulfilled by its UK warehouses.

In an update it said in June: “We have experienced challenging sales, margin pressure as a result of a highly promotional retail environment and marketplace constraints minimising our ability to leverage fixed property expenses.”