Currently under new management, this family-owned company has been transformed many times in its 177 year history. Clarks started as a Somerset sheepskin tannery in 1825 and successive managers have moved the business into making slippers, shoes and then into mass production in a global market. Today Clarks, which is branded ‘Euro-comfort’ in the US, claims to be the world’s third largest footwear brand after Reebok and Nike. _x000D_
In 1993, with profits dwindling and in-fighting amongst its 400 family-member shareholders, there was talk of selling the company. Instead, the Clark family brought in an external chief executive, Tim Parker, who closed three factories, made 1,600 staff redundant and outsourced 75% of shoe production to Brazil, India and China. The result was that total operating profit rose to £48m, on sales of £937m in 2002, while staff numbers fell to 15,270. Operating profit excluding exceptionals, a measure preferred by the company, was £60m in 2002.
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