61 Barton Arcade, Deansgate
When members of the judging panel from TV talent show Strictly Come Dancing visited footwear indie Edwards of Manchester, they gave it 10 out of 10.
“Look,” says owner Steve Fitzsimmons, pointing to the customer order book, which also includes orders from Manchester United players Paul Scholes and Wes Brown. “We do a lot of footballers’ weddings.”
The store’s strength lies in its men’s footwear offer, which accounts for 80% of total sales. Brands include Loake, Trickers, Barker and own label Edwards 1830. This year is the retailer’s 180th anniversary. That success is down to a more premium brand mix, according to Fitzsimmons.
“The average spend in men’s shoes is £250, compared with between £40 and £60 in women’s,” he says. “We’re going more upmarket after seeing the success of brands like Gaziano & Girling.” He admits there is still work to be done in lifting the positioning of its image in the women’s department on the first floor, which is mainly made up of comfort brands like Ravel, Rieker and Gabor.
But Fitzsimmons is more than pleased with Edwards’ customer service, which he believes is second to none. “Men’s feet are getting wider so we offer styles to suit,” he says. “We also offer repairs and spend a lot of time with each customer, measuring their feet and offering advice.
I once advised a customer against buying a pair of shoes as they would have loosened too much over time.”
The store also offers a bespoke shoe-making service and can adjust certain styles to fit customer needs, such as stretching a shoe. Clearly, a combination of honesty and loyalty is what has kept customers coming back for 180 years.