Over the last 12 months, we have worked hard at the BFA to continue to represent and support the best of the British footwear sector. As a result, we have seen a significant increase in Members and Partners who all see the benefits of being part of a strong and engaged community of footwear professionals. Here, we’d like to share our latest press release with you. If you’d like to discuss BFA Membership, please get in touch with our Business Development Manager, Polly Lythall.

PRESS RELEASE | January 2023: The British Footwear Association (BFA) is reflecting on double-digit growth in membership over the last 12 months as it prepares to toast its 125th anniversary with a series of special events in 2023.

Since January 2022, the BFA has welcomed 63 new member businesses, including corporate entities, small-to-medium-sized enterprises, and independent brands and retailers. This is compared to 17 new member businesses in 2021. Recent additions to the Association include Clarks, Ecco, Shoe Zone, Marks & Spencer, Le Chameau, and The Boot Repair Co., who have all joined or re-joined in the last 12 months.

Gerald Forbes, Commercial Director at The Boot Repair Co., says: “The footwear industry is rapidly changing. People expect more from their brands to tackle environmental issues our world faces. Specifically in our industry, one major goal is to reduce the flow of footwear going to landfill. We currently work with a small group of other pioneering companies that are getting ahead in the market and making a statement. We are very excited to be joining the BFA. The support the Association offers covers all aspects of today’s modern fast moving footwear industry.”

Sacha Spencer, Senior Buyer of Women’s Footwear at Marks & Spencer, comments: “We are very excited at M&S to be part of the BFA. Building our knowledge and expertise in the footwear market is a real focus for the business in 2023. We are looking forward to the support, team development and insight that the BFA and its Members will be able to offer us.”

Charles Smith, Chairman of Shoe Zone, adds: “Shoe Zone became a member of the British Footwear Association in November 2022. Our membership was primarily driven by the desire for sustainability to be at the top of both our and the BFA’s agenda for 2023. It is also important to us as a business to be part of this growing community of footwear brands, suppliers, manufacturers, and independent professionals. With 360 stores nationwide, we are pleased to bring our influence and experience to the BFA and share our own insights for the betterment of the entire footwear trade. We look forward to seeing what 2023 may bring.”

The BFA also seeks to nurture new talent and provide a welcoming community for growing brands, micro-businesses and independent designer-makers. In the last 12 months, Calla Shoes, Magnus Shoes, Kids Shoe Club, Ration.L, aspect climate projects, Trash Planet, Shuda Living, Zig+Star, DP James, and Helen Kirkum Studio have found a place within the BFA community.

Among them is specialist shoe repairer, Yorkshire Sole, led by Dean Westmoreland, who has featured as an Expert on the BBC One television series The Repair Shop since 2021. He says: “I feel that being a part of the BFA community is vital for the survival, progression and preservation of the future of the UK shoe industry and its highly skilled workforce. Shoe repair is not always seen in the most favourable light, and Yorkshire Sole has worked hard to change that perception in our own small way. Being accepted as a BFA Member vindicates this ethos and allows a closer relationship with the industry.”

He adds: “Shoemaking, manufacturing, repairing and designing holds a wealth of creative talent in the UK, and this should be celebrated, protected and encouraged to grow. Being a BFA Member is the best way to help this happen.”

As of January 2023, the BFA Membership represents sector-leading multiple and independent retailers, e-commerce giants, footwear manufacturers, wholesalers, suppliers, brands and designers. Its Members represent the best and the brightest in the trade, including New Balance, schuh, Dr Martens (Airwair International), The Dune Group, Pentland Brands, Vivobarefoot, Gina Shoes, Start-Rite and T&A Footwear.

It also supports a significant community of Northamptonshire-based bespoke shoemakers continuing centuries of British tradition, including Crockett & Jones., Cheaney, Loake, Grenson, Sanders, Tricker’s and Edward Green.

“We are proud to bring all areas of the footwear sector together, from consumer-facing brands and retailers to repair specialists, manufacturers, and component experts, like one of our newest Members, GH Frecknall. Our broad scope and ability to make connections across the entire trade are driving the BFA into 2023.”

Polly Lythall, Business Development Manager, BFA.

In addition to its growing base of Members, the BFA has strengthened its portfolio of Partners in 2022, taking the total number of third-party businesses up to 32. All have been carefully selected to aid and support Members with European trade, VAT concerns, shipping, haulage, e-commerce, omni-channel retailing, HR and recruitment, and sustainable development, among other specialisms. Notable new additions include ShoeAI, Kleene, Clover, All Axis Studio, Micro-Fresh, RT7 Digital, and Innovation Tax.

This increase in BFA Membership coincides with a sharp rise in the prominence of the BFA among various Government working groups and initiatives. In 2022, the BFA continued its monthly check-ins with the incumbent Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Small Business while ensuring its voice was heard as a key partner of the Department for International Trade (DIT) in Free Trade Agreement negotiations. The Association has also lobbied the Government on the continued challenges of Brexit, business rates, shipping, staffing shortages and more through participating in the Trade Advisory Group, the Luxury Steering Group and by being a member of the European Footwear Confederation.

“This is a hugely important year for the British Footwear Association as we are celebrating our 125th anniversary. We are also preparing to host our inaugural Sustainability Summit, which will allow footwear professionals to talk openly and honestly about the challenges they are facing and learn more about sustainable materials and processes. The growth we achieved in 2022 has laid the perfect foundations for such a milestone moment in the Association’s history.”

Lucy Reece Raybould, CEO, BFA.

Elsewhere, the Association has revamped its Quarterly Footwear Reports, introduced its debut bi-annual Footwear Trend Reports, and hosted several successful events, including a trio of well-attended networking occasions in partnership with the MICAM and Expo Riva Schuh trade events and its BFA Footwear50 initiative in December 2022.

Looking ahead, the BFA is preparing to celebrate its 125th year with an ambitious program of events that are due to be announced shortly.