Besides being a well-known retail brand in the UK, Shellys had been running a thriving wholesale business internationally in the past, showing at the GDS and other international shows. Stylo, the British footwear company that acquired Shellys a few years ago, put a stop to this business shortly after the takeover, and until recently the formerly iconic women’s and men’s label was sold chiefly in a handful of corporate Shellys stores and at selected outlets of Barratts, the family footwear retailer equally owned by Stylo.
Stylo is now re-launching Shellys as a wholesale brand in the UK and in several other countries. To kick-start the wholesale business the group will lean heavily on Lesley Lovelock, former buyer for women’s footwear at Kurt Geiger, who was recruited in August last year. Eddie Farrington joins next week from Marks & Spencer to back up the buying team.
In the UK the wholesale push will concentrate on hanging products on specially designed walls, based on a concept already tested in Ireland at the 10 stores of A-Wear, a local young fashion chain. The effort will concentrate especially on Shellys’ easily recognizable flats for women, with styles being refreshed every four weeks.
However, the investments in the brand, highlighted by its presence at the WSA show in Las Vegas last month, will concentrate on markets other than the UK. Shellys is already selling on a small scale in Ireland, New Zealand and the Middle East as well as Canada and the USA, for which it has signed a distribution deal with Stage 4 International Footwear.
Shellys enjoyed its heyday in the ‘seventies when daring youngsters flocked to its store in Carnaby Street to buy platforms and Chelsea boots. It was sold widely until the ‘nineties, when the brand went through a rough patch. It was acquired in 2003 by Stylo, which was particularly attracted to Shellys’ massive, 3-floor flagship on London’s Oxford Circus. The company had 10 stores at the time but by the end of this year Stylo will have reduced the network to only 5 units, all of them in London and selling other brands like Converse, Gola and Kickers.
Shellys is the smallest division of Stylo, which otherwise comprises Barratts, PriceLess and Shutopia, a new retail park concept. For the year ended last Jan. 28, the company reported nearly flat sales of £238.1 million (€353.3m-$450.8m). It ended the year with a loss of £1.3 million (€1.9m-$2.5m), due to the toughness of the British footwear market as well as a pension issue that has since been resolved.
The managing director for Shellys and Barratts is David Patrick, who rejoined the Stylo group in February 2004 after stints as chief executive officer at JD Sports and later at Allsports, another sporting goods retailer that recently became the property of the newly named John David Group along with JD and other fashion and sporting goods chains.