The Swiss footwear retailer Vögele Shoes has changed hands and is closing 36 stores in a strategic overhaul. 

On June 3, the company, based in Uznach, in the canton of St. Gallen, was sold by Polish shoes and accessories group CCC to German peer GmbH with the support of the Munich-based financial investor GA Europe

The change of ownership came as CCC, which acquired a 70 percent stake in Vögele in 2018, withdrew from brick-and-mortar shoe retailing in Switzerland for strategic reasons to focus on Central and Eastern Europe. 

A few days after the takeover, Hanover-based set out plans to restructure the ailing company. By the beginning of 2022, 36 of Vögele’s 116 stores are to be closed as the company plans to focus more on online business, said. The restructuring will entail 20 to 30 job cuts out of the 600 workers currently employed. 

Although it has not yet been announced which locations will be affected by the closings, they will most likely include stores in Aarau, Lenzburg, Unterentfelden and the St. Gallen Shopping Arena. 

Vögele was struggling long before the coronavirus pandemic due to increased competition. In the past 14 months, the retailer suffered considerable losses at its stores due to two consecutive lockdowns. At the same time, online sales grew significantly and now make up over 15 percent of total sales. 

In the financial year ended in January 2021, Vögele Shoes posted a loss of around CHF 37 million (€34m-$41m), according to Swiss daily NZZ, while sales fell by around 30 percent to just under CHF 112 million (€103m-$125m). 

The business will be managed by Christian Müller, who will serve as chairman, and Max Bertschinger, who will take up the posts of CEO and CFO. 

In Switzerland, Vögele Shoes will continue to operate via the online platform Eschuhe and CCC will continue to be an important supplier.