Shoe firm with a Norwich sole celebrates milestone

A shoe company that has kept in step with the times while staying true to its roots has marked 75 years in business in style.

Van Dal was established after Adelman Goodman moved his company from London to Norwich, beginning a link that lasts to this day and has led to the manufacture of millions of women's shoes.

And today a wide range of contacts of the company, ranging from retailers to heel makers, gathered together to take a tour of the factory on Dibden Road to mark the milestone.

Around 150 guests, including sheriff of Norwich Chris Higgins were also expected to gather in Norwich Cathedral for food, drink and a motivational speech from former athlete and TV star Kris Akabusi tonight.

Tony Linford is managing director of The Florida Group, Van Dal's parent company.

He said: 'I think one the main reasons we have lasted so long is commitment. We've remained committed to maintaining made in England as an attribute, and the family have a very strong commitment to the area.

'We want to keep as much of the business in Norwich as we possibly can, so if we work with an advertising agency for example we will try to make sure they are a local one.'

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The company moved to their current 60,000sq ft factory in 1960 as part of acquiring Eagle Shoe Works in a city that had long been known for its production of footwear.

Now producing 450,000 pairs of women's shoes a year in 65 styles, Van Dal has a staff of 80 in the factory but also have production in third party factories in India. The Florida Group are currently chaired by Simon Goodman, grandson of the founder.

Mr Linford said of the day's tours 'it's great because it's rare that you get everyone together involved with the process like this, and we've really brought everyone together.'

Tours were given by Mr Goodman and Graham Hadley, one of the managers at the factory. The managing director added that the company was set to launch its spring 2012 line and had recently opened up tours of the factory to the public.

He added: 'In the future it's inevitable that things will be different. The world is changing, and with the recession we've got retailers going out of business every day, but I see an increase in the idea of made in England, and there's more awareness that cheapest isn't necessarily best. After 75 years there's no need to move.'

•Is your business marking a milestone? Contact Evening News reporter John Owens on or 01603772439.