Clarks Bringing Shoe Production Home to the UK 

Are robots plotting a move away from “offshoring” in favour of “reshoring”?

And are they actually CREATING jobs? 

By Tony Coe,

Tony.Coe@saunders1865.com

Shoe production in UKWhen I think of Clarks I think of sensible shoes that put comfort and foot health over fashion and style.  My parents put me in Clarks’ shoes from the day I could walk!  And this business decision by Clarks seems equally sensible, doesn’t it? 

It’s reported that Clarks are opening a new UK factory at the company’s headquarters in Street, Somerset deep in rural England.  They plan to bring more manufacturing in-house featuring robot-assisted technology.

More than a decade ago, Clarks moved production abroad in a series of cost-saving moves to Portugal, China and Vietnam to name a few.  

I recently wrote a blog about UK Bank, RBS’s plan to relocate services to Mumbai, India in hopes of cost-cutting based on outmoded thinking around “offshoring”. 

But this move by Clarks flies in the face of offshoring and is in step with the growing trend to localise production and customer support.

Certainly, customers all over the world seem to strongly prefer to deal with local people.  Hence the hostile reaction from RBS clients fearful that they will receive inferior service and support from employees thousands of miles away who can’t relate to their situations.

Clarks is also going to reveal some new robot technology to revolutionise the production process.  The technology should reduce the time from design to stores from 72 to 13 weeks. 

Of course, robots replacing humans is a no brainer for business leaders.  They cost less and cause fewer problems.  They don’t make mistakes either.  But automation can also lead to massive growth that fuels the creation of more jobs.

In fact, Clarks say they will be creating many more jobs in the UK and elsewhere.  The new plant is set to make up to 300,000 pairs of the iconic desert boots a year.  Admittedly, this is a small portion of the 53 million shoes Clarks sells annually, but there are plans underway for more plants in the UK (as well as Europe, the US and Asia) over the next 5 years.

Whether it’s offshoring, reshoring or Brexit, all these trends are generating more and more international relocations which are our daily bread here at Saunders 1865.  We are passionate about helping businesses provide top-notch relocation support to the people and families that they move overseas. 

Great relocation support helps recruit and retain the best talent – and, done right, it enhances their loyalty to your brand.

To arrange a free consultation with a Saunders 1865 relocation expert use this Contact Form