Historic Norfolk shoe company opens new shop
- Credit: Florida Group
A shoe firm that has had a presence in Norfolk since 1936 has opened a new store despite high street uncertainty after coronavirus.
Van Dal was the only remaining shoemaker in Norwich until its factory in Dibden Road closed in 2018, with the factory shop also shutting its doors.
The company, which still makes around 250,000 pairs of shoes a year, has now reopened its store in Wroxham after a hiatus caused by coronavirus.
MORE: Centuries of shoemaking in Norwich coming to an end as final factory prepares to shut its doorsJason Larke, marketing director, said: “The building in Dibden Road was becoming so expensive to retain and the manufacturing side of the business in the UK was becoming increasingly difficult because the supply chain was no longer in place.
“So for viability reasons we had to leave and as a result the factory shop closed. We spent a long time looking for different sites. Woxham came up as an opportunity but then Covid-19 hit.”
Van Dal also runs 20 concessions in shoe departments in stores like Jarrold in Norwich and Fenwick in Colchester, employing its own staff and stocking the shelves with its products.
Mr Larke said: “There is a good latent demand in Norfolk because the factory shop was trading for a number of years. We have managed to mainshot our database and we are now seeing a nice steady flow of customers from the previous shop. But in Wroxham we also have the daytrippers from Norwich and also holidaymakers.”
Van Dal was founded by Adelman Goodman and initially started making shoes in London, but in 1936, Mr Adelman and his two sons, Lionel and David, moved their business to Norwich.
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And at its peak, the city’s shoe industry employed more than 12,000 people and sold more than seven million pairs around the world every year.
MORE: Norwich shoe firm acquires another footwear companyFollowing the closure of the Norwich factory, parent company Florida Group moved to a new office and 22,00 sq ft warehouse on Salhouse Road.
Mr Larke said store closures due to coronavirus had hit sales, adding: “A lot of our range is dressier products and obviously without weddings and social events that has also slowed quite a lot.”
Last year the company acquired the Northampton-based Padders brand and the new store, which has employed three people, supplemented by existing staff, features a selection of both brands as well as a host of others.