Rising costs for wages and rent were blamed by Stylo for a higher reported loss of £7,036,000 (€10.5m-$13.4m) in the 1st half of its current financial year, ended July 29, which compares with a loss of £5,582,000 in the year-ago period. The operating loss of the British shoe retail company, which trades under such banners as Barrats and Shellys, grew to £5,207,000 (€7.6m-$9.6m) from £5,099,000 in 2005. The gross margin shrunk to 3.9 percent, as compared to 5.0 percent last year. Stylo’s turnover increased by 4.4 percent to £104.5 million (€151.8m-$192.9m).

Meanwhile, the company has greatly reduced the deficit related to its pension fund, which still amounted to £11.0 million (€16.0m-$20.3m) one year ago. Since August of 2005, Stylo has paid up £5.0 million (€7.3m-$9.2m), and a recovery in global equity markets, combined with an increase in bond yields, has left a modest pension surplus of £0.4 million (€0.6m-$0.7m).

In a statement accompanying its 6-month interim report, the company chastised the European Union’s anti-dumping duties against leather footwear from China and Vietnam, viewing it as protectionist measures for the benefit of a group of European shoe manufacturers that “failed to respond to the challenges and opportunities presented by the growth of emerging new economies.”

Stylo goes on to state that it will continue to stay competitive by sourcing quality footwear at the best possible prices, but believes that the duties will result in a decline in the availability of quality footwear and in an increase in retail prices.