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Clarks head of wholesale among redundancies

Clarks’ head of sales for wholesale in the UK and Ireland Adam Marsden was among the 170 people made redundant at the firm last week, Drapers understands.

Clarks

Clarks

As exclusively revealed by Drapers, the 190-year-old footwear company is restructuring to focus on global distribution channels.

Marsden worked at the footwear chain for 22 years, starting in January 1994.

One footwear source spoke highly of Marsden, but mused that Clarks may be looking for “fresh ideas”.

Clarks is combining the product and marketing functions at its UK head office in Somerset with its US facility in Boston, Massachusetts. The majority of the redundancies are understood to be at the Somerset HQ.

The company said it was asking a “significant number” of people to take on new roles and responsibilities so the firm can respond better to customer demand and rapidly-changing markets. This will “ultimately ensure the future success and development of the Clarks brand,” it added.

The redundancies followed the surprise exit of Clarks’ chief executive Melissa Potter and chief financial officer Robin Beacham in September last year.

Potter left after 27 years with the family-owned retailer, while Beacham had worked there for nine. Thomas O’Neill is leading the business as executive chairman until a replacement for Potter is appointed.

Footwear observers suggested that Potter’s sudden departure was most likely prompted by sluggish sales in the UK and US. Annual sales at the 190-year-old retailer, which has more than 1,000 stores worldwide, fell 3.2% to £1.5bn in the last year, while pre-tax profits rose 1.4% to £121.5m. It did not provide a breakdown for the UK or US.

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