What have C&J Clark and Robert Dyas in common? Apart from long histories, each has been led more recently by Roger Pedder.
Moreover, under his stewardship both experienced significant upturns in fortunes, although subsequent performances under new teams diverged.
Clarks’ family shareholders – numbering hundreds including Mr Pedder by marriage – are beneficiaries of strategies which have resulted in consistently high margins and profits. Clarks, now UK market leader by sales, is fast establishing itself as a global specialist footwear retailer of consequence despite domestic market upheavals following the collapse of UK Sears’ British Shoe Corporation and a bewildering succession of takeovers, administrations and more takeovers. Clarks’ relative prosperity has come at a price, notably closing 20 UK factories, and with estimated UK retail sales even slipping lately. However, group sales continue rising as the franchised network around Europe and further afield expands, adding to the established North American business. Moreover, Clarks achieves elevated UK sales densities exceeding £500/sq ft.
Mr Pedder, not a family member, took the Dyas helm following a disastrous 1997 fire totally destroying the Croydon HQ, with its family subsequently failing to sell the business.
In short, he transformed the originally London-centric hardware chain. A management buyout continued the good work, achieving further rapid growth. However, in the mid-2000s, growth stalled followed by an ownership change. Allied Irish and Lloyds banks ended up holding most of the baby, hoisting the ‘for sale’ notice this year. But Dyas is trading profitably again, and RWKB details potential for further expansion.