They declined by 18% and 10% respectively, despite the opening of thirteen new stores. Price increases and sales in Europe - equivalent to half of consolidated sales - saved the day, with an increase of 9%.

The reason for this disappointing performance is that Dr Martens had pinned all its hopes on the United States as its next growth driver. CEO Kenny Wilson - a former Levi's man - saw an untapped Eldorado there, but so far it's been nothing but disappointment after disappointment.

Like many other brands, including Victoria's Secret, Dr Martens is taking back control of its distribution. Circumstances leave it no choice, since sales via distributors are down 17%. On the other hand, the effort will require substantial investment.

In the first six months of the fiscal year, consolidated sales fell by 5% and earnings per share by 58%. Management revised its earnings forecasts downwards, and launched a share buyback program at the same time.

It has already committed £20.4 million, with buybacks carried out at an average price of £1.5 per share. The choice makes sense, but the group's latitude here is limited by the rise and cost of its indebtedness.

Ten years ago, private equity firm Permira bought the iconic British counter-culture brand from the Griggs family for £300 million. The group has halved its stake since the IPO, pocketing a substantial capital gain in the process.

At last count, however, its share sales had ceased. Valuation multiples are now very low, which should tempt investors who believe in the brand's potential outside Europe.