Famous for its children’s shoes and foot-health initiatives, this family-owned business was created when James Clark started making sheepskin slippers from offcuts in his brother’s tannery in 1825. Although the company is still based in Somerset, today most of its shoes are made in Vietnam, China and Brazil. Clarks claims to be the world’s biggest supplier of casual footwear, selling 50m pairs of shoes annually. After joining as a graduate in 1988, Melissa Potter replaced Peter Bolliger as chief executive in April of last year. She reported sales of £1,281m in the 12months to January 2011.

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Company details
Year2011
Rank30
CompanyClarks
ActivityShoe retailer and wholesaler
LocationSomerset
Sales £m1,281
Profit £m139
Year endJan 11
Principal shareholdersClark family (84%), employees and institutions (16%)
Staff13,712
Founded1825
Websitewww.clarks.com

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* Supplied by company † Annualised figure