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Tributes to Peter Phillips, former Jones Bootmaker owner

Peter Phillips, the former chairman and owner of Jones Bootmaker, has died aged 68 after a suffering from a lung condition.

Phillips, who was born in St John’s Wood, London, in 1950, was destined to work in footwear. His father, Stanley, and uncle, Sydney, owned and ran a footwear chain called Phillips Character Shoes during the 1950s and 1960s. 

Stanley later also acquired children’s footwear manufacturing business Morris Shoes. 

Phillips left home as a teenager to seek his own fortune as a shoe salesman, before returning home in the 1970s to take over the running of Morris Shoes. Within three years, had turned the run-down factory from a loss to a profit.

He ran the business until 1998, when it closed, and spent the next two years sourcing for footwear retailer Dickies with his close friend Ken Bartle.

In 2001, he partnered with Bartle, who was then chief executive of footwear retailer Stead & Simpson, to buy Jones Bootmaker from Prada.

They ran it for five years before selling a majority stake to Icelandic private equity firm Arev and its fund, Kcaj, in 2005. Phillips became non-executive chairman and Bartle a non-executive director.

In 2009, they reclaimed a 70% stake of Jones Bootmaker, before finally selling it to Dutch firm Macintosh Retail Group in 2011.

In 2014, the pair acquired footwear retailer Shoon. However, Phillips’ health deteriorated, and they decided to sell the company to Mark Pinnock in 2015.

Phillips was known for his integrity, generosity and sense of humour. He spent his latter years enjoying his 60 acres of farmland in Cookham Dean, Berkshire.

“He was one of my best friends – a great man who had a lot of personal skills and a massive sense of humour,” Bartle told Drapers. “He was very much liked by all of his staff and had a great feel for people.”

David Corben, managing director of men’s footwear brand Steptronic, said Phillips was a “very hard-working shoe executive”. He added: “He did a good job in all the companies he ran. To his suppliers like myself at Steptronic, he was very good to us and helped us in our business.

“We will all miss Peter. He was a good man, a good shoe man and a good business man. He will be very, very much missed by all his friends in the trade.”

Charles Clinkard, founder and owner of the eponymous footwear retailer, described Phillips as a “proper gentleman”: “Whenever I met him or was about to put the phone down to him, he’d say, ‘It’s been a pleasure talking to you.’ That was his signature sign-off. He’ll be sadly missed.”

Phillips is survived by his wife, Kathryn, his four adult children, Samuel, Lauren, Caroline and Daniel, and his mother Irene.

His funeral will take place at 2pm on 16 February at Braywick Cemetery in Maidenhead, in its Jewish section.

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