Sector Insight: footwear retailing

Clark's: the clear market leader in this category
Clark's: the clear market leader in this category

Clarks is still the market leader in a category that faces increased competition


 Demographics. Long-term, the UK will have a greater proportion of older, more overweight people which may have an impact on the shoe sector, especially as older shoppers have tended to look for comfort over fashion.

 Showrooming. Footwear retailers are at risk from showrooming – where shoppers view and try on products in store but then buy online for a cheaper price.

 Non-specialists. As everyone from department stores to supermarkets, online to clothes retailers add shoes to their offering, the footwear specialists face increasing competition.

 Deflation. While the clothing category saw positive inflation in 2010, footwear is still deflationary with costs rising and margins squeezed.

 Growth. 2010 was a strong year for footwear specialists but 2011 was much tougher as incomes were squeezed and a poor summer and mild winter hindered new purchases. So far 2012 has been stronger with sales up 5.2% in the first five months of the year although this may not be sustained in second half.

 Online. Sales are increasing in this channel with total online spending reaching and estimated £660 million (inc VAT) in 2011. It is predicted to more than double by 2016.

Source: Mintel

Leading retailers estimated value of all footwear sales*, 2011 (£m)

*Including VAT
Source: Companies/national statistics/Mintel

Attitudes to footwear shopping April 2012 (%)

Base: 1630 internet users aged 16+ who have bought footwear in the past 12 months
Source: GMI/Mintel

Alison Sudbury, head of marketing C& J Clark

Sudbury joined Clarks in August 2011 to lead its marketing operations. Her previous experience has been mostly in food industry as marketing manager for Yeo Valley Organic and senior category manager for Muller Dairy. Other marketing roles held have been at Northern Foods and Kraft.

Naomi Shefford, marketing and property director, Shoe Zone

Shefford joined Shoe Zone as sales admin assistant in 1994, taking on various roles in the marketing department before working her way to marketing manager in 2000. In 2007 she was promoted to her current role covering marketing, store design, shop fitting and brand consistency. She has overseen the introduction of click & collect and its mobile site among other things.

Steven Sharp, executive director, marketing, Marks and Spencer

Marks joined Marks & Spencer in May 2004 and became executive director, marketing in November 2005. His career began at Bejam, moving onto the Argyll Group and in 1987 he was marketing director for Asda. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, The Marketing Society and The Royal Society of Arts, as well as a visiting Professor of Glasgow Caledonian University and non-executive director of Adnams.

Asya Sezen, marketing manager, Kurt Geiger

Sezen joined Kurt Geiger in 2008 as a marketing assistant, quickly moving to the role of marketing coordinator and then taking over as marketing manager in January 2011. She works on all aspects of brand marketing communications for the fashion brand across multiple channels. Prior to joining Kurt Geiger she worked in pr and marketing for communications agency Nem3sis.

Winners and Losers in the footwear retailing sector

Next. Mintel predicts it's the market leader in online footwear sales with an estimated £80m (exc VAT) in 2011. It has a dedicated area on its website for women's shoes

Clarks. It remains the clear market leader with more than 15% of footwear sales and increased slightly between 2010 and 2011. In this economic climate it was a strong performance from the midmarket specialist.

Barratts Priceless. It went into administration for the second time late last year having survived it once before in 2009. By making 680 staff redundant and closing stores, it continues trading with a shrunk down estate (less than 90 stores).

Source: Mintel

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