Clarks boss Mike Shearwood is initiating a raft of changes that he says will be a fundamental part of a “turnaround” strategy for the retailer and wholesale business.
Shearwood, who was named as the Someset-based footwear giant’s chief executive in September, has told Retail Week top of his agenda will be slashing the lead time for products to be designed, manufactured and arrive in stores from the current 72 weeks, to 46 weeks.
This will free up capital and “strengthen the balance sheet”, according to Shearwood.
“We’re going to be working closer to the market,” he said.
The former Karen Millen boss is also seeking to alter perceptions about the the retailer. “At this moment, Clarks is a global retail business and we need to transition it to be a global retail brand,” he said.
Shearwood said that this will involve a root and branch culture shift at Clarks that will see the wholesale side of the operation made to work “in tandem”, rather than in “in parallel” with the retail business.
In the stores, the UK will trial a new shopfit in two stores in March, with a view to helping shoppers understand more about the technical side of Clarks shoes and to emphasise fashionability, “something that is not always apparent”, said Shearwood.
Internationally, the US business may be restructured. “We’re reviewing the stores portfolio in the US because the business went through a period of unrestrained expansion,” Shearwood added.
Clarks has more than 22,000 distribution points across the globe and is sold in 99 countries.
In its last full-year to January 2016, Clarks posted a 65% slump in pre-tax profits to £35m, while group sales rose 2.6% to £1.53bn.
Clarks’ long-time boss Melissa Potter and finance chief Robin Beacham left the firm in September 2015, following falling sales.
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