Published: 12:14, 30 January 2008
SHOE shop chain Stead and Simpson has been rescued by a buyer, saving at least 100 jobs across the county.
But 10 jobs have been lost with the immediate closure of branches in Sheerness and Dartford.
The downturn in consumer spending is blamed for the financial problems at Stead and Simpson. Dolcis, another well-known high street shoe retailer, went into administration last week.
The long-established Stead and Simpson chain, which also trades as Shoe Express, Pose and Lilley and Skinner, went into administration earlier this week.
But it has been bought almost immediately by a new company backed by Shoe Zone, another high street retailer. The move secured 2,700 jobs but involved the closure of 37 loss-making stores, including Sheerness and Dartford.
However, the sale secures more than 100 jobs across the county, including Stead and Simpson stores in Chatham, Gillingham, Rainham, Tonbridge, Whitstable, Faversham, Herne Bay, Margate, Hythe and Orpington, Shoe Express shops in Ashford and Gillingham, and a Pose outlet in Fremlin Walk, Maidstone.
Administrators PricewaterhouseCoopers said the business had been experiencing "a difficult trading environment."
Rob Hunt, partner, said: "We are pleased to announce that, following the completion of a sale yesterday, Shoe Zone has acquired the business and assets of Stead and Simpson. This sale will enable 309 stores to continue trading, safeguard some 2,700 jobs and ensure that Stead and Simpson continues to have a place on the High Street.
"Sadly, 37 loss making branches are not included in the sale and we have little choice but to close these immediately. If this transaction had not taken place, it is highly likely that significantly more store closures would have occurred."
Last month, (Dec) Stead and Simpson Holdings tried to ease its financial problesold its Famous Footwear and Philip Jones shops, saving 375 jobs.
Stead and Simpson, based in Leicester, traces its roots back to 1834. It was one of the largest independent shoe retailers in the UK with an annual turnover of £140 million.
Stead and Simpson in Sheerness town centre, which closed its doors for good on Tuesday.
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