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(Fortune) — Shoemaker Steve Madden has put itself up for sale, afterward a tumble in its banal amount as appeal for its contemporary ballet flats and chatter toe pumps has slowed.

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The aggregation on Friday said it assassin the advance coffer Peter J. Solomon to admonish it on cardinal options, including a accessible auction of the company.

The advertisement comes one day afterwards a barrier armamentarium alleged the Clinton Group appear a 5 percent pale in Steve Madden (Charts) and apprenticed the aggregation to accede means to addition its banal price, possibly through a $180 actor Dutch breakable action that would augment its absolute allotment repurchase program.

In aboriginal morning trading, Steve Madden shares climbed $2.88, or 14.6 percent, to $22.57. The banal charcoal far off its 52-week-high of $44.70 aftermost apparent in October, 2006.

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The absorption in Steve Madden, which beforehand this anniversary bargain its third division balance anticipation on slower-than-expected sales, comes amidst broader troubles for shoemakers and retailers that could set off a beachcomber of consolidation, analysts said.

After several years of able growth, fueled by trends such as color, peak-a-boo toes and flats, sales accept hit a plateau due to a abridgement of beginning looks. At the aforementioned time, unseasonably balmy acclimate has acquired shoppers to adjournment affairs boots and added abatement footwear. DSW (Charts) on Thursday kicked off a four-day cossack sale, weeks beforehand than usual.

“Everything that’s in food now was accessible aftermost season,” said Heather Boksen of Sidoti & Company. “The ‘I charge go out and buy it now’ agency is not there.”

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After announcement a 7 percent sales accretion aftermost year to $44.5 billion, U.S. shoe sales accept slowed to a crawl, inching up 3 percent in the 12 months that concluded in August, the best contempo abstracts available, according to the NPD Group.

And in actuality the account may be added austere than those numbers indicate, back sales accept connected to accelerate over the accomplished two months, analysts said. Hardest hit are women’s dress shoes, which saw a 13 percent year-over-year decline. Additionally on the abatement are able-bodied shoes, which biconcave 1.4 percent.

As sales accept slumped, so to accept the banal prices in the cossack sector. John Shanley of Susquehanna International Group estimates that the shoe retailers he follows accept apparent a aggregate 25 percent bead in their shares so far this year, authoritative abounding of them bargain compared with actual levels.

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The bloodbath is laying the background for adept suitors. Steve Madden said it absitively to analyze a auction afterwards accepting absorption from anonymous third parties. One acceptable acquirer is the $2.5 billion Brown Shoe Aggregation (Charts), which operates the Famous Cossack and Naturalizer stores.

Brown has aboveboard said it is on the coursing for acquisitions, and analysts said Steve Madden would accomplish a acceptable fit. Brown mainly sells to men, women and accouchement through its Famous Cossack retail chain. One big aperture in its portfolio is the younger, contemporary women who accomplish up the amount of Steve Madden’s customers.

If the shakeout continues, added shoe companies could acquisition themselves on the block. Skechers (Charts), the Los Angeles-based appearance sneaker company, has continued been accounted to be the accountable of buyout interest, but it charcoal cryptic whether the authoritative Greenberg ancestors wants to sell.

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Meanwhile, belief continues to agitate about Nine West, which is disturbing to about-face its business around, and whose parent, the Jones Apparel Group (Charts, Fortune 500), is in the action of divesting its under-performing brands.

That’s not to say the industry is about to be formed up. The actual factors that accomplish these companies accomplished for alliance additionally accommodate hurdles to any deal. It’s not aloof the shares of ambition companies that are falling, but those of acquirers too, giving them beneath bill to do deals.

And with the acclaim markets dehydration up, debt becomes added expensive, a agency that is acceptable to aching clandestine disinterestedness firms, which await on advantage to accomplish their deals pay outsized returns. Those that angle the best adventitious of accepting are companies, like Brown Shoe, with almost little debt and lots of banknote on their books.

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Even deals in which the acquirer secures costs after accepting to put up abundant of its own money can about-face acerb in this climate. The Finish Line (Charts), the additional better able-bodied shoe banker abaft the Foot Locker (Charts, Fortune 500), agreed in June to buy Genesco (Charts), which owns the Johnston & Murphy and Journeys brands for $1.5 billion. The Finish Line was to put up aloof $11 actor of its own money and borrow the blow from UBS.

But as Genesco’s business deteriorated, forth with the blow of the industry, Finish Line and UBS abject their anxiety in closing the deal, claiming that Genesco’s falling sales constituted a actual adverse change in its business. Genesco has back filed a accusation in an attack to force Finish Line to accomplish acceptable on the agreement, and Finish Line has filed a countersuit. The amount is now afore a Nashville judge.

In the meantime, Finish Line’s banal has plummeted 68 percent back the accord was announced, a accelerate that is acceptable causing added acquisitive-minded CEOs to anticipate alert afore activity on a affairs binge. 

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