Walsh shoes

Member Article

Bolton sports shoe firm races ahead

A sports footwear company based in Bolton is predicting a 100% increase in both turnover and workforce, thanks to a boost in interest prompted by last year’s Olympics.

Norman Walsh Footwear is the only wholly UK owned designer and manufacturer of sports footwear and specialist fell-running shoes.

Support from the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS) is enabling it to invest in new tooling equipment. The firm says that its current growth is due at least in part to increased interest in sports after the 2012 Games.

Interest in the firm’s training shoes has hit an all time high in the last year and they are in demand by both fashionistas and sports enthusiasts across the world – from New York to Japan and Russia.

To meet volume and to add to the elite collection, the company needed to invest in new equipment to produce its latest range.

Following a consultation with MAS Advisor Nick Brandwood, funding was agreed and production began on the design and production of the new range.

Jon Crompton, Director of Norman Walsh, said: “Like many textile firms, the last few years have been difficult but increased interest in sports and sportswear at the time of the Olympics - aligned with our strategic heritage based marketing strategy - has enabled us to really build on our market position and develop high quality, cutting edge products that consumers really want.

“We are now aiming to double our workforce in the next couple of years, as well as doubling our turnover. The MAS support has allowed us to do all four sets of tooling at once, giving us an improved range to meet demand and better exposure of the brand.

“We are in discussion with various distributors globally and plan to increase our sales volumes over the next two years with our staff levels doubling from seven to 14. The strength of this brand is already being reflected by the interest and orders we are now getting from across the globe; from New York, Japan and Russia in particular.”

The original founder Norman Walsh began making athletics footwear when he left school in 1945 at the age of 14, following his father into the footwear business. In 1948 he was chosen to make many of the shoes worn by the British Olympic team. Throughout the 1960’s Norman Walsh continued to manufacture sports shoes for track and field, road and fell running, rugby league, football and cricket, all handcrafted and made for individual customer needs.

Nick Brandwood of MAS said: “Norman Walsh is one of the best kept secrets in manufacturing and has an incredible heritage, as well as amazing plans for the future to safeguard and grow the brand. In this day and age people don’t think that we make things like this in the UK and it is great to be able to support its product development and show people that we can produce footwear to such a high standard.

“I feel privileged that MAS has been able to help such a great British brand to continue its unparalleled and unbroken heritage of design and manufacture.”

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Simon Malia .

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