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Padders restarts UK footwear manufacturing

Footwear firm Padders is reinstating its UK manufacturing base with a range made at its workshop in Kettering, Northamptonshire.

The new state-of-the-art facility will allow the company to offer Padders’ branded and made-to-order products, as well as private-label footwear and contract manufacturing.

“The conveyor belts are going in this week and the first 15,000 pairs of shoes and boots will start being made at the end of August for autumn 15,” said Graeme Jenkins, sales director at Padders’ parent company T Groocock & Co. The first orders have all been pre-sold.

Padders moved the last of its manufacturing to the Far East – predominantly India and Vietnam – around three or four years ago.

But Jenkins and Groocock’s managing director John Bligh vowed to reshore some its manufacturing when they took the helm of the company last February. Bligh, who was previously product director at the family-owned firm from November 1987 to 1996, returned following the resignation of managing director Mike Rowe.

“The machinery had been packed away, but we still had the skills from director level right the way down through the company, so it made sense to use them,” Jenkins explained.

The company has hired four people for the manufacturing facility, including one senior specialist in direct injection production who was previously employed by the firm.

“Capacity at the moment is 3,000 pairs per week, but that doesn’t include night shifts and extra shifts,” said Jenkins. “We can install more machines as demand grows.”

The Padders made-in-the-UK range includes a waterproof men’s shoe and boot style and women’s boot and shoe in three colours, priced at £75 to £89 retail, with around a 2.4 mark-up.

The firm is looking for partners and is currently in negotiations with one major retailer and a leading brand to supply private-label made-in-the-UK products.

“We can develop and deliver with a very quick response for retailers and we can restock within 10 days of receiving orders,” said Jenkins.

Groocock also manufactures at partner factories in the Far East, with its own production lines and sample development teams.

@Tara_Hounslea

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