New Clarks hub brings shoemaking back to footwear firm's original HQ
Footwear firm Clarks is to open a new manufacturing unit at its headquarters in Somerset, creating up to 80 jobs in the process.
The facility in Street will have the capacity to produce 300,000 pairs of the retailer's iconic Desert Boots, and will apply "robot-assisted" technology to specific shoe constructions for the first time.
The move will see the creation of up to 80 technical and managerial jobs in the village, where shoe manufacturing was first started by the company nearly 200 years ago in 1825.
Desert Boots are currently made in Vietnam and India, and Clarks said it will continue to source its range from its existing supply chain.
Clarks now plans to roll out similar production units in other locations across the US, Europe and Asia in the next few years.
Over time, Clarks said, its manufacturing sites will form a global network of regional supply chains that "complements its current sourcing network" to enable shorter lead times and a faster response to changing trends and consumer demand.
Chief executive Mike Shearwood said: "We are delighted to be bringing shoe manufacturing back to the UK and creating a significant number of highly skilled jobs.
"Clarks is changing and as a global business we need to innovate and respond to the changing global economic order - Clarks is thinking big and innovating to ensure we are fit for the future and at the forefront of shoemaking, whilst being able to adapt to an ever-changing world."
Clarks added that the new hub will allow it to respond to the demands of consumers and global wholesale partners.
Mr Shearwood added: "The 21st century craftsmanship that we are introducing will also lead to and encourage innovation in shoe design. It will be transformative to the process of how we design and develop shoes."
With a turnover of £1.7bn, Clarks operates retail, wholesale and franchise units in over 100 markets worldwide.