Munro Footwear Group, the Australian company behind numerous footwear brands, including Diana Ferrari, Midas and Mountfords, has acquired the Ziera and Kumfs brands out of administration for an undisclosed sum.
The acquisition, which was quietly announced on November 18, does not extend to the 45 Ziera-branded retail stores across New Zealand and Australia that are being progressively closed by administrators from McGrathNicol.
This process is expected to take until the end of the year to complete, at which point the Ziera website will transfer to MFG.
The store closures are expected to impact around 250 staff, including part-time retail staff, across the two markets.
Slow to embrace e-commerce
Founded by two podiatrists over 70 years ago, Ziera, previously branded as Kumfs, is known for selling comfortable women’s footwear. In addition to its own retail operations in New Zealand and Australia, it sells footwear to independent shoe retailers around the world, including in the US, Australia and Singapore.
The company was slow to embrace the growth of e-commerce, only launching online in 2016. And despite seeing strong online sales growth, and appointing a new CEO and chairman to execute a digital transformation this year, the company fell into voluntary administration in September.
According to the administrators, the rising cost of rent and wages and falling sales in bricks-and-mortar stores had made it uneconomical for Ziera to continue trading.
The shoe brand had also struggled to respond to the falling value of the New Zealand dollar, which led to higher manufacturing costs; the US-China trade dispute, which saw US tariffs on shoes rise 25 per cent; and the falling value of the Australian dollar, which impacted sales margins in the brand’s most important market.
At the same time, the closure of globally independent footwear retailers, due to competition from larger players and online, had limited Ziera’s wholesale market.
Unique selling point
In November, administrators warned that there was little interest in the whole of the business, but that a “slimmed-down” Ziera was still attractive to buyers, given the brand’s unique offering of stylish, orthopedically designed shoes.
MFG CEO Jay Munro echoed this argument in his statement about the acquisition.
“We know how important comfort is to our customers and that comfort is a rapidly growing category, and Ziera is a name synonymous with comfort,” Munro said.
“By combining Ziera’s 70 years of expertise in comfort technology with our successful history in supplying independent and major retailers, I’m confident that we will further develop the Ziera brand and offering for current and future customers.”
MFG acquired the Ziera and Kumfs brands through its wholesale division Styling Services, which also handles the Django and Juliette, I Love Billy, Colorado, Diana Ferrari, Mollini, Gamins, Top End, Silent D and Supersoft by Diana Ferrari brands.
Styling Services will continue to work closely with the Ziera business, their factories and current wholesale customers to ensure a smooth transition, MFG said in its statement.
“On behalf of the Munro Family and Styling Services, I warmly welcome the Ziera brand and customers into our Group,” Munro said.
“We’re genuinely excited about the opportunity of adding our touch to what has been an industry leading and iconic comfort brand.”
This story first appeared on sister site, Inside Retail Australia.