Norwich’s oldest shoemakers say they’re overcoming “previous issues” since landing a million-pound funding deal.

Start-Rite Shoes, which has made children’s shoes in Norwich for more than 200 years, said it had been struggling to secure money “via traditional high street banks” at the speed needed. 

As a result, the Norwich shoemakers made the decision to move away from its long-standing funding arrangement and strike a new deal with business finance specialists Reward Finance Group.

The national firm, which employs chartered bankers in Norwich and has offices in London, Birmingham, Leeds, and Manchester, said it specialises in “speedy and simple” finance for businesses.

A spokesperson for the firm said it was able to provide a “fast-funding solution” to allow the Norfolk company to make the most of the new school year, which it described as a “vital trading period”.

Start-Rite Shoes chairman Peter Lamble said the seven-figure cash injection would allow them to launch a new range of school shoes.

Eastern Daily Press: Peter Lamble, chairman Start-rite shoes, at the warehouse at Broadland Business ParkPeter Lamble, chairman Start-rite shoes, at the warehouse at Broadland Business Park (Image: Newsquest)

The new line will join the company’s existing products, which appear on the shelves of UK retail giants including John Lewis, Next, and online retailer Very.

Mr Lamble said: “The funding provided by Reward has empowered us to act quickly and launch a more affordable range of shoes in the current economic climate.

“It has also helped us improve our cash flow and supply chain, paving the foundation for us to drive increased revenue and growth across our core trade and direct-to-consumer markets.”

He added that the new deal would allow the firm to “overcome previous issues caused by supplier delays”.

Simon Adcock, Reward’s regional director for London and the Southeast, praised the Norfolk company’s “impressive legacy”.

He added: “It’s rewarding to collaborate with such an established business with clear strategic ambitions that simply needed the working capital to realise its goals.”

The Start-Rite story

Believed to be one of the UK's oldest shoe manufacturers, Start-Rite was founded in 1792 when James Smith opened a shop and factory in the Upper Market on St Peter’s Street.

Eastern Daily Press: The shoe room in 1909 (Image: Norwich Heritage Projects)The shoe room in 1909 (Image: Norwich Heritage Projects) (Image: Norwich Heritage Projects)

Following his death in 1818 other members of the family ran the business, which became one of the first to use sewing machines.

Eastern Daily Press: A Start-Rite poster featuring the famous twins. Picture: Start-Rite Shoes.A Start-Rite poster featuring the famous twins. Picture: Start-Rite Shoes. (Image: News Quest)

The company rose to prominence in the 20th century partly down to a 1936 poster, reading 'Children's shoes have far to go' and featuring the image of twins, which was displayed on the London Underground for 20 years from 1947.

In 1955 Start-Rite was granted a royal warrant by the late Queen Elizabeth II to supply footwear for her four children.

Eastern Daily Press: Prince Charles speaks to staff in 1992 at the Start-Rite factory in NorwichPrince Charles speaks to staff in 1992 at the Start-Rite factory in Norwich (Image: Newsquest)

The company was granted a second royal warrant in 1989 by the former Prince of Wales, now King Charles III, to supply shoes for his sons.

It was withdrawn in 2003, when its factory on Mousehold Lane closed and production was outsourced to India and Portugal.

Its headquarters remain in Norwich, however, based at Broadland Business Park.