‘Dark age’ verdict for shoe shop design

SHOE retailers are not investing enough in their own design teams to improve store differentiation and product offer, according to a new report from retail consultant Verdict Research.

The report, Verdict On Footwear Retailers 1999, says British shoe shops “remain in the dark ages”, even though the historical ties between shoe manufacturers and retailers are gradually being broken. Retailers are accused of showing little imagination and relying on suppliers for product displays.

Verdict director Mike Godliman says: “If you walk down the average high street you not only see the same product, but also very similar layout and design.” Godliman believes it is this lack of differentiation in brands that has allowed retailers like Asda and Matalan to increase their share of the market. He says: “These retailers can offer cut-price shoes and convenience.”

Shellys’ operations controller Heather Feltham agrees with the report’s view that most shoe shops have not been giving consumers what they want. She says: “We’ve never used the same design consultancy twice for any of the fittings in our 14 stores. We also offer a design service and originality free of charge.”

The report points at retailers like Shellys, Nine West and Sole Trader as having exciting in-store environments. Sole Trader managing director Chris Collins says: “Store design is an important part of our offer, as is the actual product.” All of the 31-strong chain’s stores have been designed by Strategic Design Partners.

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