In 1880, three brothers, Thomas, John and William Loake, decided to set up a business. Though it started life in Thomas’s outbuilding, the business soon moved to a factory in Kettering, Northamptonshire, the home of UK shoemaking. Today it is considered one of the finest and most advanced shoe factories in the country.
Five generations and 130 years later, Loake’s association with first-class traditional English handmade shoes is firmly established in the UK, and the company is strengthening the brand’s footprint across the world with a successful export programme.
The family run company is one of the most experienced producers of fine, Goodyear welted footwear in the world, which gives its products powerful appeal in many overseas countries.
Part of the products’ allure is the care put into making each pair. They can take up to eight weeks to complete. A total of 130 skilled craftsmen, 75 shoe parts and over 200 different operations are involved in the manufacture of Loake shoes, brogues and boots.
We asked International Sales Manager Mark Hadden about working with UKTI.
Have your overseas sales increased since working with UKTI?
Yes! Exporting has trebled during the last five years, and sales are up 30 per cent from last year. We have had to take on new staff, including a European Sales Manager, to handle the increased levels of sales enquiries and orders.
Around 40 per cent of our sales are through export. We really want to expand this to 50 per cent. It was 20 per cent a few years ago, so you can see how much we have achieved already.
Company name: Loake Shoemakers
Specifically, how have UKTI helped?
UKTI have helped us to sell into places where we needed help opening doors.
They provided us with in-depth market reports about countries we wanted to export to. UKTI cannot sell the shoes for us, but the advice and knowledge they provide certainly helps.
One of the great things they help with is grants to cover travel costs. If you are exporting, a lot of travelling is necessary, which can quickly add up to thousands of pounds.
We have also used UKTI’s research service, OMIS, to identify distributors in various countries and to arrange for us to launch our shoes in Chile at the British Embassy.
In addition, we have used the Export Marketing Research Service to do our own investigations in India, to determine how we can develop business in that market.’