The footwear industry has hit out at Clarks, after the business announced it would introduce home delivery for its kids’ collections.
Under the current system, shoppers can buy from Clarks’ website but parents must pick up the order at a stockist so their children are fitted by a Clarks specialist.
Indies are concerned the move will cannibalise their business and undermine the importance of a specialist service.
Laura West, secretary of The Society of Shoefitters, said: “This really is a dark day for the history and ethos of Clarks and the foot health of the nation.”
The director of one footwear indie told Drapers: “A large number of parents probably don’t realise the importance of having their children’s feet measured and will order online.”
Another indie managing director said: “While this is very concerning for the health of children’s feet, I also have a business to run and I’m worried I’ll be left with excess stock.”
Clarks said it would continue to work with stockists to ensure properly fitted footwear was the preferred option for parents.
Clarks children’s brand manager John Potts said: “This is not about chasing a larger share of the market, it is about giving consumers a choice and we don’t believe it will damage the reputation of Clarks or the health of children’s feet.”
Potts said shoppers would be able to buy a kids’ foot gauge in stores or online, with instructions on how to fit the shoes.