Q&A: Does Clarks Franchise in the UK?

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Running a shoe franchise is a low risk, high reward way to succeed as a business owner. As a Clarks franchisee, you’ll follow a proven business model and benefit from association with a well recognised brand. But does Clarks franchise in the UK?

For retail franchises in the UK, it’s been an undeniably tough year. Restrictions and closures caused by the global pandemic have limited revenue for shops and stores the country over. Luckily, a picture of economic recovery is beginning to emerge, and as these kinds of franchises open up again, they’re pulling in customers and income. As the UK continues along the path of reopening, things will only continue to improve.

One such retail franchise that’s been impacted by the pandemic is Clarks. Clarks is a well-known global shoe brand which has managed to weather the storm of COVID-19, partially thanks to external investment and partially thanks to customer loyalty. With a fantastic reputation among consumers from all over the world for its high quality products, Clarks is a solid investment option for those interested in taking the leap.

Does Clarks franchise?

Yes, Clarks does franchise in the UK. From the company’s headquarters in Street, Somerset, all the way up to its Scotland franchise units, Clarks welcomes new franchisees.

History of Clarks

Clarks, founded in 1825, is a British success story. A man by the name of James Clark was working in a tannery owned by his brother, Cyrus. During his time at the tannery, James was inspired. He noticed a collection of sheepskin offcuts piling up as rugs were produced. 

After a few experiments with these offcuts, the sheepskin slipper was born - Clarks’ first shoe. Clarks is also known for its “Desert Boot”, a style of ankle boot with a crepe leather sole, made of suede. This boot was designed by Nathan Clark, James’ great-grandson, and launched in 1950. 

Nowadays the huge footwear franchise designs shoes for women, men and children across the globe. It’s the world’s number one name in everyday footwear, and according to the business, 105 pairs of its shoes are sold every minute across 1,400 stores. Clarks started franchising in 1985, and there are now over 100 UK and Ireland Clarks franchise units in operation.

In November 2020, after a rocky journey through the pandemic, the company was heavily invested in and rejuvenated by Hong Kong-based private equity firm, LionRock Capital. With the franchise on the mend after a year of restrictions and closures, it’s a great time to invest - especially as the footwear market is predicted to be worth £9.5 billion in 2022 [Global Data].

Starting a Clarks franchise unit

Clarks makes shoes that last, because that’s what it’s done for 200 years. It’s classic but still stylish and because it’s been around so long, it’s got something to suit everyone.
—Alexander McCalla, Thread

Clarks was named the most popular fashion and clothing brand, and the 12th most famous [YouGov]. If you’re interested in franchising with this thriving brand, there are a few different investment options and franchising routes available to you. You can, for example, become an owner-operator, and focus your efforts on a single franchise unit. 

But you could also choose to go down the path of multi-unit franchising, appointing and managing staff across a number of Clarks locations. Want to become a Clarks franchisee? Here’s everything you need to know...

Becoming a Clarks franchisee

Clarks provides all its new franchisees with a consistently high quality of training and support, both initially and on an ongoing basis. Still, the company would prefer that new franchisees come into the business with retail and management experience. On top of this experience, the ideal Clarks franchisee would be:

  • Hard-working, ambitious and resilient

  • Well organised and able to follow the franchisor’s proven business model

  • Someone capable of providing a first-class customer experience

  • Someone who shares Clarks’ vision and passion for good shoes

If you feel you have the experience, and you meet all the criteria listed above, you’d likely be an ideal franchisee in the eyes of the company. As a single-unit franchisee, you’d be responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of your franchise. You’d interact with customers, be involved with front of house operations, and handle administration and accounting. As a multi-unit franchisee, your role would instead be more focused on overseeing and delegating to trusted team members.

How much do you need to invest?

To become a Clarks franchisee, you’ll need to make a minimum investment of £50,000, with total investment costs of £150,000. If you don’t have this amount upfront and ready to invest, be aware that most UK banks will lend 50-70% of start-up costs to would-be franchisees with good credit histories. If you’re looking for a loan which covers 100% of the investment, non-traditional funding methods might well be available to meet your needs. 

What do you get for your investment?

As a franchisee with the footwear giant, you’ll be entitled to all kinds of training and support, including:

  • A tailor-made programme of support to help you get your store set up and off the ground

  • Five days of induction training at the headquarters in Street, Somerset

  • 20 days of field training, giving you a feel for life as a Clarks franchisee

  • Training for your staff members which covers all aspects of the business, including refresher training on a monthly basis

  • Access to professional design and fit-out services for the store prior to opening

  • Initial and ongoing marketing support

  • Initial and ongoing operational support 

Invest in a thriving retail franchise like Clarks today

You should now be armed with all the information you need in order to determine whether or not Clarks is a suitable franchising option for you. When you’re choosing where to invest your money, make sure you land on something you’re passionate about, whether you find that with a retail franchise, a food franchise, or a travel franchise

If you’re interested in becoming a franchisee, but Clarks doesn’t feel like the right fit, rest assured that the perfect investment opportunity is out there. Browse Point Franchise’s UK franchise directory to continue your search. 

>> Read more articles on the Shoe Store sector

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