This family-owned firm has been transformed many times in its 177-year history. Clarks started as a Somerset sheepskin tannery in 1825 and has since moved into making slippers, shoes and then into mass global production. Clarks is branded “Euro-comfort” in America, and claims to be the world’s largest footwear brand after Reebok and Nike. Ten years ago the Clark family brought in an external chief executive who closed three factories, made 1,600 staff redundant and moved 75% of production to Brazil, India and China. It reported £20m of exceptional items and an operating profit of £48m on sales of £933m in 2003, with 14,578 employees.
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