The Florida Group, owner of the Van Dal brand of shoes, has completed the acquisition of T. Groocock & Co., owner of Padders. The terms of the contract were not disclosed. T. Groocock, which takes its name from the man who founded the company in 1914, will be renamed Padders and will continue to make its comfort shoes in Kettering, England.
Adding also a recently started distribution business, the Florida Group will reach an annual turnover of around £14 million (€16.0m-$17.8m). In a further diversification move, the 83-year-old group took on the distribution in the U.K. of two footwear brands, BioNatura from Italy and BearPaw from the U.S.
While drawing attention to its ability to leverage operational efficiencies, Tony Linford, chief executive of the Florida Group, said that the acquisition of Padders will generate substantial synergies in product development, sourcing and sales. Linford became the CEO of the group in 2008 after working for many important companies including Adidas, Clarks, Ecco and Hi-Tec.
While Van Dal has a more stylish fashion approach and is positioned in a higher segment of the market than Padders, both brands specialize in wider-fitting shoes. Padders also services the orthopedic segment and has a complementary offer of slippers.
In the area of sales, Van Dal should be able to help Padders in marketing and introduce the brand to important new clients like Debenhams and to the managed retail business in general. Over years, Van Dal has developed shop-in-shops and concessions as well as a digital presence. However, both brands will initially focus on the British market.
Van Dal may also be able to utilize at some point Padders' own injection molding facilities in Kettering for its own shoes. Two former managers of Padders took over the business in 2014 and relaunched its production the following year to improve service levels. Only one of the two managers, John Bligh, has remained with the company, taking care of the production. The other, Mike Row, in charge of sales, has left.
For its part, the Florida Group closed its own former manufacturing operation in Norwich last September. Most of its shoes were made in Asia anyhow. It is relocating all its remaining operations to a new office and warehouse in another part of the city.