New boss of Van Dal shoes outlines determination to build a future for the company “as distinguished as its past” after completing management buyout

Simon Goodman, right, chairman of The Florida Group, with director Pamela Clarke, middle, and managi

Simon Goodman, right, chairman of The Florida Group, with director Pamela Clarke, middle, and managing director Tony Linford, right completing the paperwork for the managment buyout of the firm. - Credit: Archant

Bosses of Van Dal Shoes said they had secured the future of Norwich's last remaining shoe manufacturer following the completion of a management buyout from its family owners.

The Florida Group's management team, led by managing director Tony Linford, have finalised the buy-out from chairman Simon Goodman and family. It represents a change of ownership for the company founded by Mr Goodman's grandfather Adelman Goodman in the early 1900s.

The Florida Group (TFG) is based in Dibden Road and specialises in manufacturing and retailing quality ladies' branded footwear, predominantly under the brand Van Dal. It was founded in the early 1900s by Adelman Goodman, grandfather of Simon Goodman, the current chairman.

In a city where there were once 30 shoe factories, employing 10pc of the total workforce, TFG is now the last remaining still in mass production. Norwich is the historical home for ladies footwear leaving the company as the last remaining maker of traditional ladies shoes in the UK.

The group also distributes for Marc and is an agent for Pikolinos in the UK and Ireland. The company also manufactures shoes from their Norwich factory for other brands looking to gain a reputation for Made in England products that are sold both in the UK and worldwide.

Under the deal, Mr Goodman will step down as chairman, although he will retain a stake. 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, all of whom become directors of the company.

Mr Linford joined The Florida Group in 2008, recruiting the current management team in the ensuing 12 months.

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Simon 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. I am delighted that this is now set to happen.

'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.'

Mr Linford said: 'I and my management team are really pleased that we have been able to agree this management buy-out. The Florida Group, and its brands, has such a strong presence in the shoe trade.

'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.'