NATIONAL shoe retailer Charles Clinkard has polished up its first ever store, by investing £150,000 in a makeover of its Middlesbrough branch.

The Corporation Road site was the first Charles Clinkard store to be opened in 1924 and it even narrowly missed a WW2 bomb blast by just a few yards.

The investment in the store has seen all the existing departments moved downstairs and the addition of a new ‘clearance’ floor upstairs.

Managing director Charles Clinkard said: “This store will always hold a special place in our hearts, as it was the first to be opened by my grandparents Charles and Eveline more than 90 years ago.

“Our staff and customers have helped us create so many happy memories here and we’re hoping this new look store will allow us to create many more for years to come.”

The store makeover coincides with the company’s partnership with a local autism charity which has provided specialist training to Clinkard staff and helped the company create a personalised service for families affected by autism.

“We’ve been working with Daisy Chain to develop an autism-friendly environment in all of our stores – including Middlesbrough.

“We want to create the best possible in-store experience for our customers, which is why we’re investing not only in how they look, but also how our customers feel.”

Parents can now book appointments in advance for quieter times and staff can turn off in-store screens, dim the lights and offer sensory packs.

The retailer has also developed a dedicated autism awareness landing page on its website – – which includes a video of the fitting process, which children can watch before their appointment.

Since it started, the company has gone from strength-to-strength and is now a nationwide success with more than 30 stores across the UK.

For store details and opening times, visit

Image: Clinkard Store manager Gina Ditchburn, managing director Charles Clinkard and assistant manager Mary Lockwood outside Charles Clinkard’s Middlesbrough store