Creation of new innovative manufacturing arm using 21st century craftsmanship
- Manufacturing unit to be opened in Street, Somerset, where it all began in 1825, creating up to 80 jobs in the UK.
- Street facility will produce up to 300,000 Desert Boots a year
- Operation will use a combination of cutting-edge technology and both specially trained and skilled employees to support an innovative, unique volume production method applying robot-assisted technology
- Further manufacturing units to be opened across the world following Street pilot
- Will result in a faster time to market with a quicker response to changing consumer demand
Clarks, the leading global casual footwear brand, today announces the creation of a new wholly-owned global manufacturing arm that will push the boundaries of shoemaking using 21st century craftsmanship, starting with the return of manufacturing to its global headquarters in Street, Somerset, where shoe manufacturing was started by the company nearly 200 years ago.
The facility in Street, two years in development and planned to be operational by early next year subject to planning permission and other requirements, will use new state of the art technology at the forefront of shoemaking innovation to produce the iconic Desert Boot. Initially, Clarks will aim to build capacity to produce up to 300,000 pairs a year, using an innovative, unique volume production method applying robot-assisted technology to specific shoe constructions for the first time. This cutting-edge technology will be combined with both specially trained and skilled employees, creating up to 80 technical and managerial jobs, based in Street, UK. Looking to the future the company plans to roll out similar production units to other locations across US, Europe and Asia in the next few years.
Mike Shearwood, Chief Executive Officer, said: “Clarks has always led the way in shoe design and manufacture having developed a significant proportion of modern shoe construction technologies. This new facility will help us continue that tradition of innovation. We are delighted to be bringing shoe manufacturing back to the UK and creating a significant number of highly skilled jobs. Clarks is changing and as a global business we need to innovate and respond to the changing global economic order – Clarks is thinking big and innovating to ensure we are fit for the future and at the forefront of shoemaking, whilst being able to adapt to an ever-changing world.”
This significant investment in manufacturing will enable Clarks to flexibly respond to the demands of consumers and wholesale partners globally. Once the facility is operational, Clarks will be able to implement and support trans-seasonal collections, leading the way in a ‘seasonless’ approach to its ranges. Over time Clarks manufacturing sites will be situated across a range of locations, building a global network of regional supply chains that complements its current sourcing network to enable shorter lead times and a faster response to changing trends and consumer demand.
Utilising Clarks’ unique shoemaking knowledge and skills, coupled with state of the art innovation, the facility will allow greater flexibility and innovation in the process of how Clarks designs and develops shoes by placing design and manufacture at the same site. Clarks will continue to source shoes from its current supply chain whilst gaining the ability to produce shoes in any market around the world.
Mike Shearwood added: “The 21st century craftsmanship that we are introducing will also lead to and encourage innovation in shoe design. It will be transformative to the process of how we design and develop shoes.”