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Remade in Britain

Ingman's Shoes have closed their doors but behind the scenes, away from the retailing of quality shoes and clothing, they are adapting.

For a while now Andrew Ingman has been promoting his postal shoe repair service, he’s been organising pop up shops in banks in the city, he’s been talking to quality brands to become an authorised repairer and he’s been promoting the business in the online world. And it started to pay off.

However, right now the shop doors are closed and he’s one of many small business owners that are extremely worried about the future. Imagine you’d just placed an order for almost six figures for your winter stock for 2020/21 and then you’re forced to close your business. Staff need paying, rates and services need paying, then the supplier says, ‘no you can’t cancel your order’. What do you do?

“Walking away from the order is one option. If I take the order and can’t pay it, you’d think the stock would be better with the supplier to re-sell rather than with me who has no income and can’t pay it, and to be honest it would force me to lock the doors permanently and walk away from the premises.

“If I do survive, walking away from the order creates more problems. The supplier has some of the best quality leather soles available and I will only use these products in many of my best repairs. They are a fantastic product. Cancelling the order will jeopardise my supply of materials”, explains Andrew.

“My house is against the business and the way the business is set up I wouldn’t qualify for any of the government grants or loan schemes. It’s a very scary time for me, my staff and my family.”

Andrew has had some ups and downs recently.

“Then this week I received a pair of shoes to repair”, says Andrew. “It lifted my spirits, there are three more to come and the repair on the first pair will be almost £200, my first pair of Graziano & Girling shoes from a Saville Row tailor.

“Call me a shoe geek but these are fantastic shoes to work on and I have to admit I’m pretty chuffed with the repair I’ve done. It’s the small things, if you take a pair of Loakes, they stitch the soles on with seven stitches per inch, the Graziano & Girling shoes are nine stitches per inch, not everyone has the ability to stitch this close. I sat back and smiled after hitting every hole spot on, perfection.”

A way of resolution for the sole supply issue above might just present itself right here in the UK though. “Whilst I have been shut down I have used the time to research British made products and discovered the last remaining oak bark tannery in Devon and they produce what looks like a product of equal, if not better quality than our current supplier, I’ve asked for some samples so am hoping they are as good as they look.”

So, within a couple of days there is a glimmer of hope.

Andrew is not just looking at losing his business but also his home, yet faced with this he is adapting, looking at how he can change, he wants to survive, no; he needs to survive.

There are almost a million small businesses facing similar issues to Andrew at the moment and right now it’s our job to look at how we can support them. It’s never been more important, but I already feel that a ‘Remade Britain’ will look very different to today’s landscape and if people all have Andrew’s desire to succeed, I’m sure we have reason to be optimistic for the future.

Ingmans, Burlington Street, Chesterfield. 07956 858587

Words: Paul Chapman Images: Andrew Ingman


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