Family values are at the heart of the process

As befits a traditional manufacturer that has survived and thrived for well over a century, family values are at the very heart of the Crockett & Jones business model.

Founded in Northampton in 1879, the specialist English-made shoe company has seen five generations of the Jones family come through the business, with three younger members of the Jones family now on board.

Currently at the helm are fourth generation family members Managing Director Jonathan Jones and Nick Jones (Production Director), while Jonathan’s daughter, Philippa Jones is Export Sales Manager and son William recently joined to learn from the ground up beginning with UK wholesale. In addition, Nick’s son, Oliver, the newest member to join the ranks, is undertaking the role of Operations Manager. 

Jonathan said: “It is very important to us all that Crockett & Jones remains under the watchful eye and in the experienced hands of the founding family.

“All of the people close to Crockett & Jones are aware of the very active family aspect to our business. The heritage, the knowledge and the respect that comes from remaining independent, is as important to them as it is to the family members themselves. We are a dying breed. There are not many companies manufacturing a menswear product in the UK today that have over 140 years of family management under their belts... or shoes!”

The family theme continues within the workforce, where over the decades, members of the same families – fathers, mothers, daughters, sons and even cousins, nieces and nephews – have worked for Crockett & Jones.

Although the Crockett & Jones production process has evolved since the early days of shoemaking, much of the factory looks just as it did when it was first built. The manufacture of high-quality Goodyear welted shoes remains very labour-intensive, requiring a highly skilled workforce to carry out more than 200 separate operations during an eight-week period. This method, originated by hand-makers centuries ago, gives the shoes an exceptional degree of strength, durability and comfort in wear. 

The Goodyear welted process spans several production departments, each necessitating a multitude of different skills and experiences to ensure the shoes are completed to exacting standards. Many of the operations, relying on excellent hand-eye co-ordination, take years to learn and a lifetime to master.

The company has been in its current building in Perry Street since the turn of the 20th century. In 1911 a five-storey wing was added to the factory, the first all-steel structured building in Northampton, and one which boasted a huge proportion of glass to give superb natural lighting for production – an attribute which still benefits the workforce. 

Now, after more than 135 years, Crockett & Jones continues to produce shoes with the same attention to detail, quality, comfort and durability that was the hallmark of their founders, Sir James Crockett and Charles Jones. 

Crockett & Jones is also a successful retail business with flagship stores in London, Paris, New York, Birmingham and Brussels. Indeed, London now boasts six Crockett & Jones retail shops, showcasing the largest collection of Crockett & Jones shoes in the world. Having retail shops on the most revered streets across the world has given Crockett & Jones a platform from which to perform, including providing shoes for James Bond for both the Skyfall and Spectre movies.

Jonathan Jones said: “Profiteering and inflated margins are rife in the fashion world, but is something that does not interest us. Our single goal is offering good-value, high-quality English-made shoes. We don’t have huge marketing budgets and the margins on our products are reasonable. Instead, we focus on product quality, product development and sourcing the highest quality materials. Our Production Director spends all of his time on the factory floor, overcoming production issues and managing factory staff, often at a personal level. Crockett & Jones is a manufacturer with product quality and skill at the heart of everything it sets out to achieve. 

“We position ourselves as a genuine a company, with authenticity at its core. If there is a manufacturing fault with a pair of shoes and our retail staff believe it to be a manufacturing fault, that pair of shoes will more than likely end up being dealt with back in the hands of a Jones. Impressive, and rare...”

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