(CBN Global) March 25 -- Belle International Holdings Ltd. [HKG:1880], the largest women's shoes retailer in China, will acquire 29 percent equity in Fashion Box SpA, a leading international company based in Italy that trades in the denim sector, to counter the sharp decline in the women's shoe market in China, CBN has learned.
Shoe sales dropped five percent year-on-year to CNY9.84 billion (USD1.5 billion) at Belle, according to its 2015 interim report. The company blamed the decline on a sluggish market and the impact of e-commerce on offline businesses.
The jeans brand Replay, owned by Fashion Box, operates 3,000 sales outlets and 200 retail stores around the globe, and will enable Belle to expand its presence in overseas markets.
Belle is not the only Chinese shoemaker that has diversified into other businesses to boost sales. DaphneGroup, owner of another famous women's shoe brand in China, recently started a co-operation with Vivi, one of Asia's top fashion magazines sponsored by Japanese publisher, Kodansha Ltd.
Similarly, C. Banner International Holdings Ltd., China's leading retailer of mid-to premium women's footwear, made a joint announcement with French toy retailer Groupe Ludendoin October last year that they will acquire British toy retailer, Hamleys.