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Ladies – Gabor. Mens – Rieker, Childrens – Clarks. In all cases we get great

support and have a successful relationship which we all benefit from most of the time. We do have the odd hiccup, but then it would be boring if it was all straightforward.

How do you select your products – which criteria do you use / what are your customers looking for? The buying process and selection of new season’s products is based on

analysis of last season’s performance against a benchmark. We then agree a budget for each brand, view the ranges and try to get a good mix of some continuity, at least 50% new lines, some colour and then key looks for the season if reflected by the brand. We aim to keep it fairly simple but generally it works. When we try to be clever and buy too much fashion it either works really well or is a disaster. Unfortunately the majority is a disaster!

Which footwear/fashion shows do you attend, how do you rate them? The main shows we attend are Garda, Moda, GDS and sometimes Micam.

How are you finding the footwear market currently? The footwear market is challenging but we are constantly looking at how

we do things and trying to understand our customers’ requirements and improve the delivery of them. We work very closely with our key suppliers and see this as a partnership that has to work for everyone. My biggest issues are arrogant suppliers who don’t deserve good partners and poor quality product which puts our reputation on the line.

What’s selling well? Any particular trends? Which are your best-selling footwear brands – and why? People will say I am biased because we distribute Gabor via Intershoe but

the brand has been amazing this season with sales over 20% up – you can’t alter the facts! Others that are doing well are Rieker, Fly London, Clarks and Marco Tozzi. On Men’s the classics have been doing well with Loakes being the best performer and offering better value than their competitors and alongside this Rieker and Skechers have been strong. Lastly Children’s with Clarks dominating and Geox and Hush Puppies delivering good results for us are the key performers. The best sellers in each gender are all fairly classic and safe with Black in most cases dominant. It is not rocket science when the economy is like it is – play safe.

Does your shop sell other items besides footwear, bags, gloves, tights, socks, below the ankle products? We do sell handbags and some branded accessories, but in a lot of cases

do not have the space to show them properly. It is an area we are working on and it is steadily improving.

Any difficulties/problems? The only difficulties/problems we have are generally to do with all the red

tape we now have to comply with. The paper pushers at Whitehall have a lot to answer for when common sense should prevail. One other thing that really frustrates me is the low life solicitors that prey

on companies’ insurance policies to earn vast fees over the most minor incidents. Fortunately we have very few of them but none the less this practice should not be allowed to happen.

Any tips on stock offers, novel ideas for clearing lines or advice for independent shoe retailers who might be feeling the pinch? Build a good relationship with your key suppliers and they will generally

support you. It is a partnership not a one way street. (Listening to some of the sales teams feedback from visits there are customers who are often difficult to work with). Some retailers can be quite rude and arrogant and don’t really help themselves and yet if they only realised that if you treat people with a little respect you generally get a lot more out of the relationship.

What is your favourite men’s footwear brand/manufacturer – ditto ladies/children’s brand – and why? My favourite brands are based around performance and the people we

deal with.

The Clinkard Group Tel: 0845 051 5885 Web:

Do you have a favourite footwear agent? Most of the suppliers we work with are excellent so it would be unfair to single out one person. Probably the nicest man in the shoe trade though is Stewart Chanter from Marco Tozzi – real character.

Have you always had a passion for footwear? How many pairs of shoes do you own? Do you have a favourite pair? I was in reality born into shoes and I enjoy most of the people and the

product so I have a passion for the business, rather than just footwear. I have about twelve pairs of shoes and my favourite pair are a ten year old pair of Grenson boots which have been fantastic – sadly they are no longer made and a hole has just developed in the sole.

Any famous customers? Famous customers I really do not know if we have any but a lot of the

brands we sell are worn by famous people so over the years hopefully one or two of them have shopped with us.

And, the next step? Any plans for the future, new lines, retail systems/new technology, etc.? Things are changing very fast so the online store is our key focus, but we will look at any opportunity that we find or is offered to us. With banks as fickle as they are we like to be in control of our destiny. To be fair we have an excellent relationship with our bank and a good manager, but it is the big wigs that concern me.

Charles Clinkard Managing Director Clinkard Footwear


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