In a seemingly organic collaboration, retailer Marks & Spencer is partnering with British footwear maker Walsh in a bid to move its apparel more upmarket, and increase its number of products made in the UK.
Walsh, a Bolton based company, is the only trainer brand to design and manufacture its shoes in Britain. For M&S it has designed eight premium trainers, four for men and four for women that will retail at around £110.
According to The Telegraph, the trainers are to be sold under the umbrella of Marks and Spencer’s Best of British range, which only includes items produced in Britain. In the earlier days of trading, Marks and Spencer relied heavily on British suppliers but switched to manufacturers in the Far East over 10 years ago. Now the British retailer is attempting to reconnect with its heritage.
Norman Walsh, founder of the shoe business, began making footwear in 1945, producing trainers for the British Olympic team in 1948.
A spokesman for M&S said: “This season will see the Best of British collection continue to champion the finest of British craftsmanship from around Britain. Our collaboration with Walsh, who were established in 1961, further highlights another long-standing British brand that has achieved greatness through quality and innovation, and we are extremely excited with the union.”
Following the most recent trading update from M&S, the first to show an increase in general merchandise (including clothing) in four years, M&S hopes to continue a boost in its non-food division. The Walsh trainers will be available from autumn, as part of the retailer’s autumn and winter range.