In 1918, two war-weary young soldiers and former POW’s returned to Britain at the end of the First World War. Identical twins, Jack and Bill Denton had come back to their Northamptonshire roots, having survived the tumult of a war-ravaged Europe. They were keen cricketers and opened for Northamptonshire, but as Jack said “there was not a living to be made out of cricket” so on Feb 11th 1920, D B Shoes was formed, manufacturing men’s shoes and boots, in a region of the country renowned for its thriving footwear industry. During the 1930’s, the business grew and moved to larger premises in Rectory Road, Rushden.
The Second World War saw D B Shoes devote much of its production to manufacturing footwear for the war effort.
Then, in the early 1960’s, Jack’s sons Hugh and John Denton, took over the running of the expanding business. Sales soared to 25,000 pairs per week as the company embraced the new manufacturing technologies of PVC and PU direct injection moulding, but by the 1990’s, the business declined considerably due to increased import penetration, with the resultant closure of 2 out of the 3 factories.
In 1997, Charles and David Denton, from the 3rd generation and also identical twins, bought the other shareholders out and started the substantial task of changing the business from a loss-making manufacturer with no clear direction, to the successful specialist wide fitting manufacturer it is today.
The task was daunting – with 220 out of 250 people having to be made redundant; factories closed and upper production moved overseas within 6 months. At the same time, a “new direction” had to be implemented, with ranges and marketing strategies developed.
The company nearly did not survive, but hard work, determination and a focus on the new strategy saw the business pull through.
In 2004, the hard work of turning the company around was recognised with the winning of the British Chambers of Commerce National Award for Outstanding Business Achievement.
The company was an early adopter of the internet seeing the strategic advantage of communicating directly with the consumer and offering a product to fulfil his / her needs. In 2003, DB Shoes launched www.widerfitshoes.co.uk .
Further awards have followed, with DB Shoes winning the Comfort/Wellness Footwear Brand of the Year in 2017 and 2019 at the Footwear Industry Awards ceremony. This accolade was an independent stamp of endorsement, recognising the DB Shoes brand as second to none in the comfort category, nationally.
Managing Director Charles attributes much of the company’s success to its total commitment to supplying stylish footwear for the wider foot. “We have a great team of people, great suppliers and customers who have watched and embraced the philosophy of DB Shoes. Without them, none of this would have been possible. Thank you to all those involved in helping turn DB Shoes into the success story that it is today.”
Today, the business specialises in wide fitting shoes, working with, and supporting, quality independent retailers who follow this ethos. DB Shoes are exported throughout the world, including countries such as the USA, Canada, Europe and Australia.
Over the last 100 years the shoe world has changed considerably; in the first 50 years it was the change in manufacturing technology; the latter years the change in computer technology and the way shoes are sold. Many manufacturers failed to embrace that change and for DB there were some very close calls, but the company has kept running and is now 100 not out!
DB Shoes are able to keep their full range of footwear in stock at their Rushden headquarters and can offer retailers stock back services plus the support of their helpful Customer Service team on 01933 359217.