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How are you finding the footwear market currently? The market is very flat, we have had a few years now with no major growth, I feel we are sat waiting for the next big thing to take off - we had Rockport then Timberland and then a few good years with Ugg but now there is nothing out there in huge demand.

What’s selling well? Any particular trends? Which are your best selling footwear brands – and why? We have a very wide range of brands and styles, there are no stand out trends or brands for us at the moment.

How important is shoe fitting to your business? Are you or any of your staff members of the Society Of Shoe Fitters? Although not members of the Society of Shoe Fitters, we do take shoe fitting seriously and offer a full measuring and fitting service for children in the stores.

Do you use an EPOS (retail technology) system in your shop(s)? Yes we use Retail Pro and have done since 1998, I love it!

Any difficulties/problems? Related to EPOS, we sometimes get the occasional problem as our website back office system is provided by our web developers, which is then integrated into Retail Pro, so sometimes it can be a little tricky, but nothing major and it’s usually a quick fix.

What is your favourite men’s footwear brand/manufacturer – ditto ladies/children’s brand – and why? Favourite men’s brand is Timberland, I have many pairs, they are comfortable and durable and the styles are classic, so I can wear them for a few seasons. My favourite kids brand at the moment is Salt Water, it’s new to us this season, they look great on kids and the brand are great to deal with. Ladies wise I would go with Laura Vita as the styles and colours are just so unusual, I love to have something different in the shop and this brand does just that.

How do you select your products – which criteria do you use / what are your customers looking for? After buying for 18 years I think you just know what will work and what won’t in store, being on the shop floor 5 days a week and knowing my customers helps too. Sadly when buying you do have to buy what will sell and not always what you like - personally this can be frustrating at times but you have to remember you are running a business!

Which footwear/fashion shows do you attend, how do you rate them? We do MODA in Birmingham twice a year, it’s the only show we do and we find it good to see lots of brands under one roof. It has good times and bad, from my point of view the more brands that show there the better. We do occasionally attend other shows, we’ve been to Berlin a couple of times recently, just in case there are some international brands we don’t see in the UK, but Moda is the main one.

Do you have a favourite footwear agent you can tell us about? Wow that’s a tough call as I have a great relationship with most agents, but my favourite agent has to be Justine Biggs from Lelli Kelly. She is just ace, she’s fantastic at her job and is one of my best friends.

Have you always had a passion for footwear? How many pairs of shoes do you own? Do you have a favourite pair? I never really had a choice I feel that shoes are just the life I was born into. I do however love the business and every season buying excites me and then when the product comes in I get a buzz as things we bought sell well, obviously there are days when I could willingly sell up and retire, but at the moment these days are far outweighed by good days! Most would say I probably have far too many shoes, but if you can’t have a wardrobe full of them when you own a shoe shop, when can you?

Any famous customers? Our Manchester store sell to many of the coronation street cast, David Beckham bought a pair of kickers for Brooklyn when he lived up here, and one of the little mix girls were in the shop a few weeks ago. We also had Mischa B from X factor in one day and then Ed Sheeran came in and they took a selfie!!

And, the next step? Any plans for the future, new lines, retail systems/new technology, etc.? I am really happy with the way things are at the moment, I would like to keep growing online and hopefully get some growth out of the shops too, but I also think about the future and doing something different with my life, so selling the business in a few years time is not out of the question. I guess I just have to find the right buyer, so if anyone fancies a fantastic shoe shop let me know!

Jake Bland Owner of Jake Shoes

Contact: Jake bland Jake shoes tel 0161 480 5558 email web


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