A YORK-BASED Internet shoe company is offering British soldiers U.S. desert boots at cost price.

Stuart Paver, managing director of shoe-shop.com, responded to reports that there was a surge in demand for the tough GI footwear by soldiers unhappy with British Army issue.

Many feared that the soles of their standard issue boots would tend to melt on the burning desert sands.

Mr Paver, who will get his first consignment of 50 vulcanised rubber soled U.S. army boots into his warehouse in Clifton Moor on Wednesday, said: "It would be wrong to make a profit out of our soldiers going into action.

"I would rather we did not have to stock these boots at all. I would rather the Government provided them with proper desert boots. It's a shame that they feel it necessary to seek boots better made and more comfortable for the extreme conditions."

The boots normally retail at £80.90, including delivery. Soldiers ordering them through www.shoe-shop.com will be able to pay just £57.99.

"But they will have to have a British forces delivery address," he said.

He added that judging by a surge of orders for the boots that others in the trade had experienced, he expected that his first consignment would sell quickly. "We are standing ready to order thousands more, if necessary, from Holland, where they are stored."

Updated: 10:51 Monday, February 17, 2003