Last year, the British Footwear Association received an astonishing 78 enquiries from people wanting to set up or develop a footwear company. We speak to all of them and once we eliminate the naïve and the downright crazy, we end up working with a substantial number of these entrepreneurs.

Typically, they need advice on sourcing – nearly everyone would love to have their product  Made in Britain, sadly a hard ask these days – and sales and marketing as well as a host of issues  like Intellectual Property, finding and managing sales agents and pricing. And they all need  extra funding.

We are fairly ruthless with our advice and always stress the pitfalls, especially financial, of launching a new brand. Nearly all of the individuals underestimate the cost of bringing a brand to market (we calculate they will need £50,000 plus if they want international sales) and nearly all of them do not appreciate the structure of the UK retail environment for high grade footwear. The dearth of premium independent shops and the dominance of Kurt Geiger within department stores normally leads the brand owner to very quickly work out that they need to think internationally and to go multi-channel from the onset.

This in turn means attendance at expensive overseas exhibitions, finding reluctant sales agents or distributors and trading from e.commerce sites – all of which was probably not in their original business plans.

We become further involved with many of these “young” brands by helping them exhibit successfully at premium shows like MICAM Milan – and now Shanghai as well – GDS and Platform in Las Vegas. Again we ensure they can plan against the various obstacles placed in the way of budding exporters and we rejoice in their triumphs when take orders and acquire sales people.

We reckon that of that 78 original enquirers, probably about 10 will go on to have a successful future and to stride past the magic £1m turnover. In recent years, we have celebrated the growth and potential of brands such as Miss LFire, Kat Maconie, Butterfly Twists, Miista, Esska, Northern Cobbler, CocoRose London and Aspiga and there are many others in the pipeline.

The future of the industry looks bright when we combine the energy and determination of these emerging labels with the professionalism and attention to detail of the more established British brands beating a path through world markets.

For more info contact: John Saunders,