C&J Clarks, the world’s biggest shoe company, is to start the search for a new chief executive following a decision by Peter Bolliger to step down after 15 years.
Mr Bolliger, who joined Clarks in 1994 and has been chief executive since 2002, has told the board he wants to retire next year when he is 65. The 174-year-old company, based in Street, Somerset, is one of Britain’s biggest privately-owned companies with 400 high street shops in the UK and 11,300 employees.
In May the company bucked the slump among high-street retailers by announcing a 16pc rise in annual profits to £86.8m. When Mr Bolliger became chief executive, profits were £46.8m.
Mr Bolliger said that despite Clarks’ success, in the final two months of last year the company did suffer “a sharp reduction in sales volumes and profitability”, particularly in North America where it makes just under half its shoes.
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Started in 1825, by Quaker brothers Cyrus and James Clark, as a business making sheepskin rugs and slippers, Clarks is still 81pc owned by the Clark family, with the remaining 19pc held by employees and related institutions. It has operations in the United States, Europe and Asia. Its manufacturing bases are in India, Brazil and China.