Managing Director (4th Generation Jones)
How long have you worked at Crockett & Jones?
Aside from it being your family business, what originally attracted you to work for Crockett & Jones?
It was the quality aspect of the business, along with the family history and I also had a keen interest in the product. The founders of the business set high standard for shoe making in the early 20th Century, which was a key motivator to continue and develop.
What did you do before you joined Crockett & Jones?
After University, where I studied Classics, I read law in London for two years, I then started to take an interest in the family business from afar. At the time the company wasn’t doing particularly well, so I came back to Northampton and began working at C&J and it went from there.
In the 1970's, it is well documented that Crockett & Jones was not in the position it is today, how did you go about rebuilding your family business, and what are the key elements that brought your company the success it is experiencing today?
There were a lot of problems at the time, the company had been treading water since the second world war and hadn’t expected the upcoming changes in the fashion market. We needed to redefine the strategy of the company going forward. We focused on building our exports and developing new markets such as Europe; which we didn’t have a big presence in at the time. All of this was built from our great strength – which is high quality Goodyear-welted shoe making.
After what must have been 20 hard years of growing the Crockett & Jones’s reputation, whilst making sure you had the right product quality and collections, did you ever imagine that C&J would prosper so well on what must be the most competitive street in the world – Jermyn Street, London?
In 1997, we had already started to rebuild the product collections and the same time as growing the European market, so the concept at the time was to create a showcase for the brand by having a, London based, flagship retail shop. Jermyn Street being the most famous street for shoes - that was the key place to start. It gave us the opportunity to begin our long-term strategy of having our own retail so we could serve customers personally and showcase our full collection.
Congratulations for achieving 20 years on Jermyn Street. What do you think has made C&J retail so successful since you first opened at 69 Jermyn Street?
The success of Crockett & Jones retail has grown steadily and organically from day one. After getting the first shop established, continued success came from a combination of team work from head office, Steve Murdoch and his retail staff in London. We gradually expanded the retail business as we felt we could.
The success is down to the quality of the product and the retail team – we have a very loyal team who give high quality personal service.
Crockett & Jones is world renowned for offering excellent value. This has always been your focus, and is spoken about daily throughout the retail shops. Why is this balance between price and quality so important to you?
We want to be known for high quality products whilst being competitive in our field – essentially, everyone, when purchasing a product wants to be reassured by this. Our customers appreciate quality so we need to keep the balance right to maintain their brand loyalty. We are always grateful to the number of loyal customers we have attracted over the years.
Crockett & Jones are now regarded as a much ‘trendier’ company than in previous decades due to our world markets, particularly Japan, and interactive platforms such as our website, Instagram and Pinterest. How do you think this perception impacts on business today when it didn’t exist in 1997?
This is down to the product itself, we are always looking at improving our collections whilst moving with the times. A lot of spending on footwear is now by the younger demographic so we have to get the balance right between traditional and keeping up with current trends. By having opportunities to be in better contact with our customers worldwide we are able to get more feedback and keep in tune with their fashion – which is taken into account when developing our seasonal collections.
Given that the demand for C&J has grown considerably over the past few years, is there a growth strategy for C&J retail? And are there any new C&J retail shops in the planning?
We are always looking at retail opportunities, although we need to be aware of what we can sensibly handle and our production capacity. Our retail business will continue to grow slowly and steadily over the coming years.
What are the challenges that a 2017 Crockett & Jones encounter and where do you see the company over the next 20 years?
One challenge that I am often documenting is the sourcing of quality skins, it is becoming more and more difficult to find due to the shortage of calf skins currently in Europe. There is also the constant challenge of changing fashion trends around the world, with the market becoming more casual. This reflects on the smaller number of skilled labourers we are seeing when trying to recruit in our factory in Northampton, due to our industry becoming smaller. Through all of these challenges we still continue to grow by focusing on our strengths.
Finally, do you see Crockett & Jones continuing as a family run business?
We are fortunate enough to have a number family who are interested in taking the business forward. With three members of the next generation, Philippa, William and Oliver already involved, that is a very good sign for the future!
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