Clarks is to begin volume manufacturing shoes in the UK again with the launch of a wholly owned manufacturing unit at its global headquarters in Somerset.
The unit in Street, where the company began in 1825, will create up to 80 jobs in the UK and have the capacity to produce up to 300,000 Desert Boots a year.
It is designed to enable Clarks to get new shoe ranges to market more rapidly, in response to fast-changing consumer demands.
If the pilot in Street is successful, the retailer will launch additional manufacturing units in the US, Europe and Asia.
Clarks chief executive Mike Shearwood said: “Clarks has always led the way in shoe design and manufacture, having developed a significant proportion of modern shoe construction technologies. This new facility will help us continue that tradition of innovation.”
Shearwood added: “Clarks is changing and as a global business we need to innovate and respond to the changing global economic order – Clarks is thinking big and innovating to ensure we are fit for the future and at the forefront of shoemaking, whilst being able to adapt to an ever-changing world.”
The initiative came in the wake of Brexit and sterling’s consequent slump, which has caused many retailers to readdress how they source their products.
Clarks’ profits sank 43% to £20m in the year to January 31 and the retailer warned at the time that the slumped value of the pound will have a “profound effect” on cashflow and profit in the year ahead.
The footwear retailer also poached Nomad Foods executive Paul Kenyon to take on the role of chief financial officer last month.