Above anything else I am a family man with four fantastic kids and an amazing wife! we have been together since I was 13, so she know more about me than most! I have been interested in Shoes all my life and apart from the fact, can’t really explain why! At 12 years old I was sporting a pair of black suede ‘Brothel Creepers’ and no this wasn’t 1955! I must have just been born with the interest.
The Early Years
My first job was at Dolcis Shoes as a Trainee Manager! I worked in the Market Street branch in Manchester under a guy called ‘Mr’ Murphy – it was all very formal in those days and suits and ties were the order of the day. Having decided that running a shoe shop wasn’t for me (lol!) I moved on to Timpson Shoes where I trained in the buying department for nearly six years. I picked up a degree in Business along the way, studying at night school and weekends at Manchester Polytechnic, (Now Manchester Metropolitan University).
Timpson was taken over by Olivers and in 1986 I was made redundant, which gave me a kick up the arse! and I guess was the start of the madness because from there on my life changed in so many ways. I had three kids and took up a job in the centre of London on Oxford Street! I had no idea where to live or how to get there but having attended a few interviews down there was offered the job of Senior Merchandiser with Top Shop in their buying department. After a few miserable months sleeping on the floor of a manky bedsit in Wembley and driving home to manchester at night, I quit and moved on to Top Man where I introduced the first shoe ranges, with the department head Gail Edbrooke – she kind of showed me how to act like a Londoner! something that just wasn’t really in me!. Out went the suits and in came the chinos and padded shoulders! (This was 1987!)
Although the family finally moved down to Bushy where we lived we hated the London life, it just wasn’t me!, cue my last ‘real’ job at Barratts Shoes in Bradford.
I spent nearly nine years with Barratts! starting as Sports and Slippers Buyer and ending as Men’s and Kids Buying Controller. I totally loved buying shoes, this was what I was meant to do and for me its was the best job in the world. I travelled the world too, one time actually travelling on a round the world ticket from Manchester to The Far East via New York, Miami and Columbia in South America. We went where the shoe factories were, and that was always changing. One year it would be Thailand and Indonesia, the next Vietnam and India.
The Supply Years
All good things come to an end and although I did enjoy it, it was tough on the kids as I was away a lot, not to mention having to drive from Altrincham to Bradford every day. One day I walking in to Michael Ziff’s (The owner), office and quit. I teamed up with a guy in Portugal and started designing and distributing shoes from a factory there. I called the buisness Network CFD (Commercial Footwear Designs). I moved on to Italy and started devloping shoes for Ben Sherman, Barratts, Priciples, Littlewoods and quite a few others.
Europe became difficult in the late 90’s and in 2000 I set up TMC Footwear Ltd in partnership with a large Taiwanese Company. With this company we hit our stride, developing and supplying for Tesco, New Look, Next and many other high street names. In 2004 we sold over 2.3 million pairs of shoes and business was booming.
I was running Shoes.co.uk as an Affiliate Website, basically it was a window to other sites selling shoes. For everyone that left shoes.co.uk and bought a pair of shoes from say, River Island or ASOS, Shoes.co.uk would receive some commission. It was great and because we didn’t need the money to live on so it just accumulated.
By 2006 we had enough money in the bank to turn Shoes.co.uk in to a proper shop and that’s exactly what I did! Of course I knew many of the suppliers from my buying days. I took on the Ex-Buying Director from Schuh and erstwhile Littlewoods Buyer Jackie Hodge and we went about formulating the plans to open the British Zappos, Shoes.co.uk was born! I had a buyer, a Web Developer and Designer and went about buying shoes for the new venture.
We finally closed the company in March 2016 and sold the assets to Shoon Ltd who will opearte the website from July 2016.