Shoezone hails online growth in 2019

Shoezone has reported a fall in underlying profit before tax from £9.6 million to £1.7 million for the 12 months to 5 October, although the online side of the business fared well during the year.

Preliminary annual results showed group revenue up by 0.9 per cent to £162 million, while digital revenue rose by 13 per cent in the second half 0f 2019, on top of 5.2 per cent growth in the first half; or 9.2 per cent for the full year.

During 2019, the retailer consolidated its internal resource to create an autonomous digital department, and this - along with a dedicated drive to boost email subscribers - led to a “step change” in business performance. The email database rose to over one million engaged members, which resulted in a conversion rate rise of 3.5 per cent year-on-year.

Total digital revenue was £10.6 million, with Shoezone noting that its new online team attracted 10.5 million visits to its UK and Irish websites over the course of the year, with 351,000 orders made via the sites.

The retailer added that online returns were “extremely low” at around 11 per cent, with 80 per cent of those items returned direct in-store.

Chief executive Anthony Smith said: “Despite it being a difficult year for Shoe Zone, the business has achieved revenue growth, and delivered underlying profit before tax marginally ahead of our revised expectations, following our revaluation of freehold property.

“Alongside the continued momentum in big box expansion and digital growth, town centre renewal is the third key focus for our refreshed strategy,” he continued, citing a successful trial of four ‘hybrid’ stores, with plans to convert a further 20 traditional stores to this more premium model in 2020.

Smith said that while he does not agree with an inevitable “death of the high street”, over the past 10 years the rates paid as a proportion of Shoe Zone’s rent have increased from 26.4 per cent in 2009 to 54.3 per cent in 2019. “Despite rationalising our store estate, the value of rates paid has increased by £700,000 despite having 38 per cent fewer stores and 30 per cent lower sales.”

Shoe Zone ended the year operating from 500 stores, having opened 24 and closed 16 during the period.

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