The men’s shoemaker Base London was founded in 1995 by Marc Verona and David Conibere to ‘make dream shoes walk off the catwalk and into the high street,’in Verona’s words. With more than 40 years of experience in the industry between them, the pair founded the company to bring the values of an upmarket brand to a wider audience by offering similar shoes at lower prices. ‘We aim to bring an original twist to a product,’ says Verona, managing director, who employs five full-time designers. In 1999 the firm produced the Base Guide to London, a handbook of all the attractions the tour buses do not go to, telling people where to buy everything from counterfeit Tommy Hilfiger jeans to transvestite sex. The guide was launched at the old Aldwych Tube station with a party for 500. A good product and skilful marketing have driven up sales by 111% a year, from £1.7m in 1996 to £15.5m in 1999. The company was recently voted men’s footwear brand of the year by readers of FHM magazine, the second time in three years that Base London has scooped the award. With continental customers accounting for 45% of sales, Base intends to add offices in France to existing outlets in Germany and Norway.
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