Name: Chris Macnamara
Shop(s): The Brogue Trader
Brands: (Footwear) Loake, Joseph Cheaney & sons, Crockett & Jones, Tricker’s, Herring, Oliver Sweeney, Sebago, Anatomic & co.
(Socks) Corgi Hosiery (Gloves) Dents (Umbrellas) James Ince (Polishs etc) Collonil
Home town: Cardiff, Wales
Family:Joanne Macnamara (Wife) Stacey Macnamara (Daughter) Keiron Macnamara (Son) Daniel Macnamara (Son)
1. How did you get into footwear? Tell us about your background and your current business?

Being in senior management for two decades and in that time I travelled extensively and mixed with very wealthy people. When I looked around the room I would notice I had inferior footwear on with my cheap Marks and Spencer shoes. I then formed a love relationship with English goodyear welted products; when the time was right for me to create my own company andsf I was commercially aware and financially stable enough to do so, I came up with the idea of the brogue trader, a gentlemen’s shoe store that sells great footwear from iconic footwear brands.
2. Where are your premises located and how many people do you employ? Tell us about your shop(s), the local area, your customers and their requirements?

The Brogue Trader is currently situated in Cardiff’s beautiful Morgan Arcade otherwise dubbed as the ‘Gentlemen’s Quarter’ of Cardiff. We currently employ 5 staff. We find that our store has become one big family with a very close knit group of people working together in the store.

The Brogue Trader in Cardiff is not just your regular shoe shop, it has somewhat become a ‘Gentlemen’s retreat’ from modern retail as we have created a club feel with regular customers revisiting us just for the atmosphere.

We are the Official Footwear supplier to the Welsh rugby union national squad and Official national Match Referee’s squad. We are also an official sponsor of the Cardiff Blues and work very closely with George Thomas Hospice charity in Cardiff recently raising over £16,000 at our ‘Brogue Goes Bond’ evening we held in the arcade.

Now, before you try on your shoes in store we would measure your feet, offer you a cup of tea/coffee, a glass of scotch or maybe a cheeky beer in the afternoon! Then discuss the occasion or outfit that the shoe is intended for and then select a few options and look at alternatives.

Obviously our customer’s requirements are the top priority as we are not selling the shoe to the customer, we are simply finding the correct shoe to fit their needs and I think that has been lost in modern retailing.

We pride ourselves on giving great customer service, and thankfully it has been acknowledged as we have recently won the Footwear Industry ‘New Independent Footwear Retailer of the Year’ award and the ‘Cardiff Retailer of the Year’ award.

3. Do you have an online shop/website and do you use social networking for business?

Yes we have a fully transactional web store and engaging website that we regularly like to upload videos to about various things such as the different type of brogues to introductory video clips of the staff members. Our website is

We believe that social media is a powerful tool in today’s retailing. We use Facebook (The Brogue Trader) and Twitter (@broguetrader_) regularly to upload photographs of new stock, customers who have joined our ‘six pair club’ and to create an interest in the store with customers who may have never thought come into store before.

4. How are you finding the footwear market currently?

We are finding that the Gentlemen’s footwear market is very strong and that men are buying more and more premium footwear to wear on a regular basis as opposed to trainers or comfort shoes.
This may also be a cultural trend as men are also dressing far smarter casually than they have for over two decades and the realisation that the sweet taste of low price is soon forgotten by the bitterness of poor quality.

5. What’s selling well? Any particular trends? Which are your best selling footwear brands – and why?

We are finding that two-tone full-wing brogues are selling very well, especially during the wedding season with the Groom looking to stand out next to his ushers.

Another popular colour would be Mahogany as we are finding it is very easy to dress with most colour suits or chinos making it most people first choice when they are looking for a multi-purpose shoe.
I would have to say Loake is selling very well due to its great value for money product and its huge selection or styles, width fittings and sizes from 5 to 13 including half sizes that are readily available.

6. Do you use an EPOS (retail technology) system in your shop(s)?

We do not use an EPOS system in store as we like to hand write every receipt to give an authentic feel and place some value into the payment of the product.

Any tips on stock offers, novel ideas for clearing lines or advice for independent shoe retailers who might be feeling the pinch?

I would suggest using social media to push particular lines that may not be performing well in store.
If you know your product well you should make every effort to draw attention to the key selling points of the shoe instead of just pointing out that it is in ‘sale’

8. What is your favourite men’s footwear brand/manufacturer – ditto ladies/children’s brand – and why?

My favourite men’s footwear brand would have to be Crockett & Jones as I find the quality of the craftsmanship and finishing to the shoe is a league above any other English made shoe. I have also found that they are incredibly comfortable and require no ‘Breaking in’ at all.

9. How do you select your products – which criteria do you use / what are your customers looking for?

In store we like to have variety. We like to stock shoes that are very classic and those will always stay the same as a base line style, however we do like to have some styles that we can change and that create attention. For example some shoes I will never sell due to their lack of appeal but passing customers will remember the store and ‘that’ shoe.
10. Have you always had a passion for footwear? How many pairs of shoes do you own? Do you have a favourite pair?

Of course, I have always had a passion for footwear! And, I always found that there was a lack of great gentlemen’s footwear in Cardiff.
I own many pairs of shoes but owning a shoe shop is difficult as I can never resist the urge for a new pair!

11. Any famous customers?

We have become Cardiff’s no. 1 shoe shop and that has brought in some familiar faces for example, Joe Calzaghe CBE undefeated world super/light middleweight boxing champion, Carwyn Jones the Welsh first Minister, Jason Mohammed the BBC sports presenter and pretty much every Welsh international rugby player including providing shoes several of their weddings

12. And, the next step? Any plans for the future, new lines, retail systems/new technology, etc.?

We take every day as it comes but watch out there may be more Brogue Traders in future
Christian Macnamara
The Brogue Trader Cardiff,
27a Morgan Arcade,
CF10 1AF Contact:
02920372036 Website :
Facebook: The Brogue Trader Twitter : thebroguetrader_