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RETAILER OF THE MONTH


Cheryl Taylor talks to Charles Clinkard of Clinkard


purveyors of fine footwear since 1924.


How did you get into footwear? Tell us about your background? Footwear was in the blood and from the age of 12 I was on the shop floor in our Middlesbrough branch breaking boxes up, doing the rubbish and generally helping out during the school holidays to earn some pocket money. I obtained three ‘A’ levels but decided not to go on to further education


more down to the fact that I could not find a course that was really of interest or great value to me for a career in retail. What was the point of three years at a Poly, when I could be out learning the ropes and earning a living. Bally offered me a place on their trainee management scheme. I have to thank them for giving me a great grounding and opportunity to allow me to make mistakes and learn from them! I worked for Bally for five years and ended up running their third largest store at the top of Regent Street. When I left in October 1989 the store was taking 2.7 million pounds. It was a fantastic company to work for and so when I was approached by my Father to return to the family business it was not a straight forward decision. The deciding factor in the end was that I had probably reached a level


in Bally where the information I would be privy to if given the opportunity at the next level would cause a conflict of interests due to my family connections. I joined the Clinkard business on 4th November 1989 and the rest is history.


Do you have a high turnover of staff? Tell us about your shops, the local area, your customers and their requirements? When I joined the company we had six branches and now we have thirty


five. We employ circa 700 people depending on the time of year and the majority are on flexi contracts. Turnover of staff is slightly high at around 5% due to the number of students we employ. Our shops are family orientated offering a mix of Men’s, Ladies and Children’s with the emphasis on classic quality brands. We like to think we provide a great environment to shop in and an excellent level of service. We don’t always get it right but I like to think we try our best 99% of the time. No one is perfect though!


When did you open your first on-line shop? We have a very successful online shop which we started in 2004. I can recall


raising the subject at a board meeting and there were one or two raised eyebrows. It has played a major part in our success in recent years. Our aim with the online business has been from the outset to offer the same level of service via a different format and the quality products in line with the bricks and mortar stores. Effectively it is an extension of our core business. Anyone who does not have an online shop now is going to struggle in the future unless they are in the very fortunate position of owning most of their freeholds and being cash rich i.e. a property company that happens to sell shoes.


20 • FOOTWEAR TODAY


• FEBRUARY 2013


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