Murtosa, the recently established women’s comfort shoe company, has closed its headquarters in the UK and set up a new company in St. Louis, in the USA, to be closer to the US market which now represents 90 percent of its business. Un unnamed new investor, believed to be based in Taiwan, is stepping in. New Balance remains as a minority shareholder. For his part, Michael Fiennes, the British entrepreneur who launched the brand together with Keith Rossiter and other investors in the UK in 2001, has stepped out to concentrate on his growing retail business.

Fiennes, who worked previously for Clarks and ECCO, has just opened the 24th unit of his Schoon chain in the UK and wants to take it up to 40-50 units over the next few years. Sales are expected to reach £15 million (€22.7m-$27.6m) for the new financial year ending next January. Recent openings include a 5,000-square-foot store, set up on the premises of a former GAP store on Marylebone Street in London, which also sells clothing a gift items like Schoon’s flagship in Bath.

Run until now on the sales side by Dick Meckfessel, the former head of Mephisto USA, the management of Murtosa in the USA is now led by Rossiter. Due to the poor exchange rate between the euro and the dollar, the company has stopped sourcing and manufacturing shoes in Portugal and has switched to China for its lower prices and the advantage of buying and selling in US dollars. A small segment of high-range shoes continues to be produced in Italy, where upper leathers and lasts are sourced, designed and purchased before being sent to China. All the technical development for the models made in China is similarly carried out in Italy.

Murtosa’s design focus has become more elegant and feminine, following the move to the USA, while maintaining the same quality of materials and comfort features. The brand is also sold in independent stores in Portugal, Spain and the UK. Murtosa is exhibiting at the Modacalzado fair in Madrid in September. The company sold 60,000 pairs of shoes in 2003, generating net sales of $3.5 million.