Kettering shoe firm bought

The firm's Kettering Venture Park home. NNL-190514-163927005
The firm's Kettering Venture Park home. NNL-190514-163927005

A shoe firm that has been in the borough of Kettering for more than 100 years has been bought by a company in Norwich.

T.Groocock & Co, the makers of Padders, was sold to The Florida Group last week.

As a result the firm will change its name to Padders (Kettering) Ltd but will continue operating from their Kettering Venture Park base, where it’s understood about 50 people are employed.

The Florida Group and their principal brand, ladies’ footwear Van Dal, will stay at their Norwich premises.

When asked whether the Kettering jobs would be safe The Florida Group said the market “is incredibly tough” but that both businesses will trade from their own sites as they look to “integrate and leverage the combined strengths.”

Florida Group chief executive officer Tony Linford said: “We are delighted to conclude this deal.

“There is enormous pressure on business in the current climate, particularly on those engaged in manufacturing and wholesale.

“Inevitably there will be consolidation in the industry and this move represents an exciting opportunity for both companies.”

He added that the moved would “undoubtedly” benefit both brands.

Groococks has a long history in the borough of Kettering and has employed hundreds of people over the years, including the legendary Malcolm the Fish Man, who worked there for 48 years.

Founder Thomas Groocock was a general retailer in 1906 with no connection to the shoe industry but, with Northamptonshire quickly becoming the home of shoe production, he led the family into business.

In 1914 he established the firm in Fox Street, Rothwell, and with his son Irving they soon made a name for themselves.

They bought a factory in Rothwell’s Gordon Street in 1922 to keep up with the demand for quality British-made shoes.

The Groococks also did their bit during the Second World War, making sturdy leather army boots and shoes for the armed forces.

In the 1950s Groococks partnered with Densons to make the popular beetle-crushers and winkle-pickers.

They soon introduced 24-hour shifts for the first time to make 3,000 pairs of shoes a day.

In 1982 they launched the comfort-focused Padders brand, with Satra giving Padders shoes one of the highest ever scores in their footwear comfort index tests.

In 1987 alone they made more than one million pairs.

By 1990 the firm opened their first factory shop in Gordon Street in Rothwell, selling rejects and end of line products.

By the turn of the millenium they moved to 42,000 sq ft premises in Kettering’s Venture Park, where they remain today with the head office, manufacturing facilities, warehouse and a retail outlet.

In 2010 they branched out to open a manufacturing facility in Chennai, India.