For this week’s Factory Friday, I wanted to put the spotlight on a member of the Cheaney team who isn’t necessarily directly involved in the physical construction of our shoes, but who still plays an integral role within the business and for that, I went to Clive, our Wholesale Sales Representative. Clive is responsible for wholesale for the South of the UK, Ireland and Holland, establishing ventures with new clients whilst also increasing existing turnover within our core base of customers. His role involves a great deal of travelling, visiting customers across the country and showing new collections at key seasonal transitions within the year whilst also showcasing our made to order products. Because of this diverse role, Clive spends some of his time at the factory, liaising with Design and Technical Manager Chris Munns and it was on such a day that I managed to squeeze some time in for a chat amidst his busy schedule.
How long have you been with Cheaney now Clive and what did you do before you came to us?
I’ve been with Cheaney for five and a half years now. I worked in Market Harborough prior to that for 10 years with Rieker shoes as a sales rep but I’ve been in the industry for 40 years total.
What made you get in to the footwear industry?
It was a twist of fate really. I left school and worked in a supermarket and one of our customers, Mrs Marshall, one day commented that she thought I was very polite and had a good ethos when it came to customer service and asked me if I wanted to work in her shoe store. That was in 1977 and ironically, she stocked Cheaney shoes, amongst other brands. I specifically remember the Cairngorm shoes that she sold which we still produce to this day.
Your career began in retail and has progressed throughout the years within this industry to where you are now but tell me, if you could work any other job out there, what would you do?
I’d certainly still be in retail, I really enjoy the industry but I think I would be a watch salesman. My perfect watch is the Tudor Black Bay Swiss Dive watch and it’s on my wish list.
(As a side note, I can attest to this avid appreciation Clive has for watches. Having shown me photos of his collection and having chats about what would be on our watch wish list if money were no option, I can divulge to you that Clive has very good, albeit very expensive, taste in timepieces. Clive also buys his wife a watch every time she gets a new car and stipulates that it must be the same colour as her car, resulting in his wife sporting a beautiful tangerine orange Swatch watch one year).
(The show room where Clive spends some of his time showcasing collections to clients)
Having been a part of this industry for so long, why do you think there has been a resurgence in demand for customers wishing to buy British made?
For me, Cheaney offers the best value for money when it comes to ‘properly’ made English shoes and I think that that, coupled with the rise in people’s interest in the source of their commercial goods has meant that we have continued on and grown to where we are now.
So tell me, how many pairs of Cheaney shoes do you own?
(Laughs) Not too many! About 15 pairs, my favourite being the Cheaney Amis in burgundy with a Brit grip sole and punched toe cap.
Be honest, do you have more shoes than your wife?
I think so! I have a sliding wardrobe that we converted to have horizontal shelving and that’s full of shoes, but very neatly full might I add.
Finally, what do you think has been your career highlight so far?
Probably just taking a gamble at changing my career path. I worked in retail for a long time and there was a fair amount of risk transitioning to being a sales rep, but I’m incredibly pleased that I did it. It was worth the risk.