Crocs footwear firm to lay off 180 staff

The US firm has seen waning interest in its shoes as the company falls victim to changing trends

The US firm that once persuaded a US president and A-list Hollywood stars that colourful plastic clogs were stylish footwear has unveiled a big drop in profits and is to close more than 100 stores around the world.

Crocs is laying off about 180 staff after profits slumped more than 40%. The company, which is listed on the US stock exchange, said it would also be slashing its product range in order to save $10m a year by 2015. In the last three months, profits dropped 44%. The company did not say where it would close stores, but its outlets in the Americas and Asia saw trading slump by more than 6%. Crocs' European stores were the only ones to see underlying sales growth.

Conceived as footwear for use on boats back in 2002, the footwear became a hit in the mid-2000s, with "Crocophiles" including Al Pacino, George W Bush and Jack Nicholson. By 2005, production had hit a million shoes a month. It listed in 2006, but by 2009 profits were diving as the trend slipped away. The business was forced to shut factories and lay off staff.

Six months ago Blackstone, the private equity firm, invested £117m in a 13.5% stake in the company, which has about 600 stores around the world, including three in the UK.

Andrew Rees, the company's president, said: "We have a clear, well-defined strategy for addressing these issues and improving performance. Work is under way already to drive significant change throughout our company."

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