Management buyout deal at the Florida Group marks new era for Norwich shoe firm

14:14 09 April 2014

Van Dal managing director Tony Linford in Norwich.  Photo: Bill Smith

Van Dal managing director Tony Linford in Norwich. Photo: Bill Smith

Archant © 2013

Norwich’s last remaining shoe manufacturer is to enter a new era after a deal was struck for it to be bought out by its management team.

Bosses at the Florida Group, led by managing director Tony Linford, pictured, have agreed terms for the buy-out with chairman Simon Goodman and family, which has owned the company since it was founded by Mr Goodman’s grandfather Adelman Goodman in the early 1900s.

Staff were given news of the buyout move, which is being assisted with finance from Barclays, yesterday.

The Florida Group specialises in manufacturing and retailing high grade ladies’ branded footwear, predominantly under the Van Dal brand.

The group also distributes for Marc and is an agent for Pikolinos in the UK and Ireland. The company also manufactures shoes from its Dibden Road factory as part of its ‘Made in England’ range which are sold both in the UK and exported worldwide.

Mr Linford, who joined the business in 2008 and recruited the current management team, said: “The team and I have exciting plans to take the company forward.

“We plan to expand the business, taking advantage of the opportunities being presented by changes in the footwear industry. We will announce more detailed plans in due course.

“After so many years in the hands of the Goodman family, I feel privileged to be taking the helm of such a great business, and I am determined to build a future for the company which is as distinguished as its history to date.”

With Heads of Terms agreed, it is hoped that the buy-out will be completed in the next couple of months.

Mr Goodman will step down as chairman, although he will retain a stake in the company. As well as Mr Linford, the management team involved in the buy-out comprises head of product Claire Farmer, head of marketing Jason Larke, head of finance and HR Pamela Clarke, and head of logistics Anne-Mette Christensen.

Mr Goodman said: “As I have approached retirement, my primary concern has been to secure the future of the Florida Group and the people who work within the company. It has always been a strong possibility that Tony and the team would eventually buy the business, and I am delighted that this is now set to happen.

“The most important thing for me was the continuance of the Van Dal brand. It was started by my family and I have been the third generation in the business. I’ve been involved since the 1970s, so it’s naturally a wrench to come away from it.

“This is a really strong leadership team which is ideally placed to take the company into the future, and I step down in the knowledge that this great business is in safe hands. Tony has got some great ideas he wants to put forward.”



Show Job Lists


J&S Jewellery was launched three years ago by sisters Jenny and Sophie Laslett and is now turning over £1M a year. Photo : Steve Adams

When launching a jewellery business in late 2012, sisters Jenny and Sophie Laslett used some borrowed money and a spare room. After ordering a small batch from a manufacturer in the Far East, their only customers the first Christmas were friends and family.

Justice Secretary Liz Truss arrives in Downing Street, London, for the first Cabinet meeting of the new government. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday July 19, 2016. See PA story POLITICS Cabinet. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

It is always challenging to take on a job in an industry in which you have no experience, looking to learn on the job while leading.

Green 100


Enjoy the Green 100
digital edition


Mustard TV

Meet the Team

Mark Shields

Business Editor


Chris Hill

Agricultural and Farming Editor


Shaun Lowthorpe

Business Publishing Editor


Sabah Meddings

Business Writer


Duncan Abel

Business Development Manager

Business Most Read


Norfolk Future 50 EDP Business Awards Green 100

Business Most Commented

Newsletter Sign Up