The London-based firm, founded by Nick and Lulu Rayne, has acquired the One Small Step business from Start-rite Shoes Ltd. One Small Step currently operates five standalone children’s shoe stores in London, as well as a pair of department-store concessions at Fenwick in Newcastle, England, and Bentalls’ Kingston location in London. The shops will be rebranded under the Step2wo nameplate and will continue to sell the Start-rite collection, alongside a wide range of other upscale brands.
According to a statement by Peter Lamble, non-executive board member of Start-rite, the company made the decision to sell the business in order to focus on its core brand.
“We’re delighted to have sold the business to an accomplished retailer like Step2wo,” Lamble said. “We look forward to an ongoing trading relationship.”
For Step2wo, the acquisition offers an opportunity for the firm to strengthen its position as a leading high-end children’s retailer in the U.K. market. The firm already operates concessions at Selfridges Oxford Street, Harvey Nichols (London, Leeds, Edinburgh), Brown Thomas (Dublin and Cork) and Fenwick Brent Cross. It also sells through the Step2wo, Selfridges and Brown Thomas e-commerce sites.
“[This acquisition] makes us the largest specialty retailer of children’s shoes in the U.K., with a total of 17 points of sale,” said Nick Rayne. “The One Small Step shops are a great fit for our business. They are all located in highly populated areas with excellent foot [traffic], and they have a very well-established customer base.”
Similar to Step2wo’s existing stores, the One Small Step locations will carry the Raynes’ own Step2wo collection, in addition to a mix of other brands, among them Armani Junior, Lelli Kelly, Geox, Timberland, Hunter, Dr. Martens, Ugg, Ralph Lauren, Gucci and Mini Melissa.
“Lulu and I are looking forward to developing sales of both the Step2wo and Start-rite brands in the U.K. through [these new] locations,” Rayne noted.
Start-rite’s divestiture of One Small Step follows the company’s announcement earlier this month that it had appointed Ian Watson as its new chief executive. Watson, formerly the European managing director of Britax, succeeds Lamble, who stepped down as joint chairman and chief executive after 20 years.