Belle buys rival Big Step

Chinese women’s footwear retailer Belle International will be taking a big step forward with its move to buy rival Big Step.

The buyout, backed by an 800 million yuan investment (US$126.66 million), reflects a continued bright outlook of the company after experiencing a 24 per cent profit increase in 2011.

Belle, whose brand rights portfolio includes Joy & Peace, BCBG, Clarks, Geox, Millie’s and Staccato, gained 4.25 billion yuan (US$671.32 million) for the year to December, 24 per cent higher than 2010’s 3.42 billion yuan (US$541.49 million).

Big Step, a former rival which is now under Belle’s umbrella, has a network of 600 stores across the mainland under its distributed sportswear brands Adidas and Nike.

Belle’s acquisition of Big Step supports its aim to take a bigger slice of China’s footwear market, which grew to 64 per cent last year from 61.8 per cent in 2010.

Belle, which also distributes sportswear brands like Puma, Converse, Nike and Adidas, has a huge presence in China, Hong Kong and other places with 10,270 self-managed footwear stores and 4680 sportswear shops.

The profit increase gave Belle the confidence to add 10 per cent more shops this year.

“Profit margins will be steady this year. Production costs will stabilise and the company may increase prices slightly this year,” said Sheng Baijiao, Belle’s CEO.



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