Footwear specialist Clarks has said it will cut 700 jobs globally over the next 18 months as it launches a new strategy designed to future-proof the ailing business.

Clarks said its ‘Made to Last’ strategy comprised two central pillars: new branding focused on “exploiting the brand’s potential, leveraging its heritage” and sustainability; and a new “end-to-end” operating model.

The new operating model will be aimed at making Clarks more able to deliver its strategy “in a lean, effective and quick manner” and will lead to a reduction in the global workforce of around 700 staff globally.

Clarks said 900 existing roles will be mothballed, while 200 new roles will be created under the new strategy.

The new strategy was announced today by Clarks chief executive Giorgio Presca, who said 160 staff would be made redundant globally immediately, including 108 people at the Somerset head office.

While Presca said there were “exciting opportunities ahead” for Clarks, he said the immediate redundancies were the result of “difficult decisions”.

Clarks said it would be “actively supporting” affected staff to find alternative employment “within or outside” the business.

Presca said Clarks would be concentrating on “expanding the use of digital and social channels to connect with consumers”.

The retailer has also divided up its brands into “three distinct business units” – Clarks Originals, Clarks Collection and Cloudsteppers by Clarks – which would “ignite our emotional connection with consumers”.

“We are a business that walks its own path,” said Presca. “We are evolving to put our brand and consumers at the heart of everything that we do. This will ensure that our organisation is made to last, empowering our people to contribute to a great future for the company.”

The news follows the retailer’s last update in March, where it announced it had been in consultation with a number of financial advisers to address liquidity issues amplified by the global slowdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic