NINETY years ago, Charles and Eveline Clinkard established a footwear empire which has survived some of the worst economic upheavals in history.
If you’ll pardon the pun, the business remains on a firm footing today, and is looking for further opportunities to grow in Yorkshire.
Managing director Charles Clinkard said: “We like to say to customers that we’re with them on all their walks of life.
“We’re there from their first baby toddle to the first day at school, the first romantic stroll to the walk down the aisle - and on and on for the rest of their lives.”
The company has stores in Ilkley, Wetherby, Leeds, York and Northallerton which have attracted celebrity shoppers including US boxer Larry Holmes and the actress Judi Dench.
Today, the Clinkard Group has 33 stores across the UK, and Mr Clinkard is the third generation to be in charge. The £34m turnover company has 60 staff in Yorkshire, and around 550 altogether.
“The success is down to the heritage of the business,’’ said Mr Clinkard. “It’s got a great family culture.”
The company, which is based in Stockton on Tees, Teesside, was recently voted Multiple Retailer of the Year at the Footwear Industry Awards. The Leeds store, which was the company’s first outside the north east, opened in 1976.
Mr Clinkard said: “Our exclusive brand offering is continuing to prove a huge success as we spread around the country from our North East base, and I look forward to identifying further opportunities for expansion in the future.”
Much of the company’s growth has been organic, although it has also made a number of small acquisitions to increase its geographical reach. Mr Clinkard confirmed that Beverley was one area that is on the company’s radar. It was also one of the pioneers in developing the online footwear market.
Mr Clinkard added: “Now we’re looking ahead to our centenary and all the walks of life we intend going on with our customers in the next decade – in their own way, we’re sure each and every one of them will be just as epic.”