The shoe retail chains controlled by the Vivarte group had mixed sales results during the company's latest financial year, ended on Aug. 31, but a company spokesman pointed out that their performance was satisfactory in a market that declined by an estimated 3.3 percent in France during the period.

Excluding discontinued operations, selective footwear retail suffered a sales decline of 2.4 percent. While the Minelli and San Marina chains posted sales increases of 4.7 percent and 2 percent, respectively, sales were off by 3.2 percent for the André chain, which has launched an ambitious reorganization program.

In the discount segment, the group's sales declined by only 0.2 percent for the financial year, after a drop of 3.7 percent in the previous one. Sales went up by 0.7 percent for Besson, and the performance of La Halle aux Chaussures was described as positive.

A stronger recovery was recorded in Vivarte's clothing retail segment. Overall sales increased in the higher-end segment, in contrast with a drop of 4.2 percent in the previous year, driven by Caroll. In the discount segment, sales fell by 5.7 percent after many years of double-digit declines and a drop of 9.6 percent in 2011/12.

All in all, the group reported a 1.8 percent decline on a comparable basis in the financial year ended last August, compared with a stronger 4.6 percent drop to €3.1 billion in the previous fiscal year, with about half of the turnover generated in the shoe sector. Sales declined by 1.6 percent in France and fell at a higher rate in Spain, due to the difficult market situation in southern Europe.

Marc Lelandais, the new president of the group, said these figures were the first fruits of a significant change of strategy implemented a year ago. The results were described as encouraging, considering the fact that the group's sales had gone down by 2.5 percent in the first ten months of the financial year, due in part to bad weather conditions.

The recent trends have been particularly positive at La Halle aux Chaussures, following the introduction of a new store concept that is being rolled out throughout the chain, starting with about 150 stores. Developed by a former merchandising official of Zara and Lancel and already implemented in about 20 locations, it features chesterfield sofas, fashion puppets, better lighting and other details intended to stimulate a more comfortable and qualitative shopping experience.