Firm is well heeled as buyout pays off

Guy Dowsett, William Church, Jonathan Church and Jameela Jamil
Guy Dowsett, William Church, Jonathan Church and Jameela Jamil

A footwear manufacturer that still makes its shoes in Northamptonshire has won a top award.

Cheaney, which is based in Desborough, won the Men’s Footwear Brand of the year in the 2013 Drapers Footwear & Accessories Awards held in London.

Tha award is given to the brand that is judged to be the best men’s footwear brand operating in the UK market today.

The judging panel was looking for a strong brand ethos throughout the business, innovative/useful product, solid sales performance, prompt deliveries, customer service and inventive marketing activity, and that little bit extra that makes one brand stand out from the pack.

Joint managing director William Church said: “We are so delighted that Cheaney has been honoured with this prestigious award.

“It is a great reflection on the hard work and commitment given by our employees, customers and suppliers over the past three-and-a-half years.”

Cheaney was the subject of a management buyout from the Prada Group three years ago and has gone from strenth to strength.

“It has achieved this success by concentrating on the heritage of the brand; producing high quality Goodyear welted production in the UK, and expanding its global distribution.

The new owners, cousins Jonathan and William Church, have opened three new shops in London, taken part in a number of international trade shows, and appointed agents and distributors in key markets.

Cheaney has also been working with carefully selected partners to produce dual-branded collections with brands such as Superdry and AllSaints, which has introduced the brand to a new younger customer base.

Last year also saw the launch of the Cheaney e-commerce site with first year sales exceeding the budget plan.

Cheaney make their shoes, from start to finish, at their Desborough factory.

In the three years since the management buyout, employment in the factory has increased by 30 per cent and production output has risen by a similar percentage.

In the two years to July 2012 Cheaney has seen a 52 per cent increase in sales to £6.6 million, with exports now accounting for 25 per cent of sales.

A loss making business three years ago, Cheaney is now generating a healthy and growing bottom line.

Jonathan and William Church come from a family with five generations of shoe making expertise and their plans include more stores, increasing the export market and collaborations with other leading global brands.

Jonathan Church said: “Over the last three years we have concentrated on Cheaney’s heritage and Britishness.

“This has allowed us to bring Cheaney to its full potential as a brand.

“We look forward to the future success of Cheaney as we expand further into overseas markets, with the US in our sights.”