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Shoe & Leather News , June 25th 1970 (supplement), transcribed by Kay Collins
DB Shoes Celebrate 50 Years

The cover of the booklet
How it all began
Six years ago DB Shoes (formerly Denbros), of Rushden, took a gamble which has paid off handsomely and has proved to be a significant milestone in the 50-year-old history of this progressive, forward-thinking and efficiently run family business.

Virtually overnight they discontinued their existing methods of production, including stapled welted and cemented footwear, and took the plunge into PVC injection moulded men's and youths' production. Since that day they have never looked back and the company have gone from strength to strength. They are making an impact as suppliers to the wholesalers, multiples and mail order houses.

Excellent Growth Potential
Order books are constantly full and production has soared from 4,000 pairs a week to 10,000 and DB have plans for a further build-up to 15,000 in the near future. Growth potential in the next few years is rated excellent.

Quite obviously no firm can mushroom in the way that DB have without careful planning and the company have laid the foundations for expansion. Recently they bought the adjoining factory in Rectory Road, Rushden, and this will give them a valuable additional 15,000 square feet of floor space. Eventually, the company intend to link their existing factory with the new acquisition so that they have one completely integrated production unit.

Their two 10-station CIC moulding machines will, in fact, be transferred to the extension during the annual holiday in August, thus ensuring that there will be no break in output. The move of this plant will release space in the main factory for increased closing and lasting capacity which is urgently needed.

Another major step in the planned expansion of the organisation was taken last year when the company snapped up a former roller skating rink at nearby Irthlingborough when it came on to the property market. A spacious building with high roof and sound wooden block floor, it has proved to be an ideal warehouse and despatch department.

Ensuring Continuity Of Supplies
To ensure continuity of supplies to their growing number of customers, DB carry up to 90,000 pairs of instock footwear covering their entire range of men's, youths' and women's output. So efficiently is the department organised that in the majority of instances orders are despatched to customers on the day they are received. The use of the latest automatic banding machines means that the warehouse staff of three are able to despatch in excess of 2,000 pairs a day.

This smooth operation is made possible by the company's rigid insistence that their production is kept as simple as possible, thereby eliminating the complex technical difficulties experienced frequently by other firms. In addition, every person within the DB organisation from the directors down is essentially productive.

During the past six years, the DB factory has been completely re-planned to allow the last ounce of productivity by the labour force of 120. Apart from the CIC moulding machines, up-to-date British and Continental machinery and equipment has been installed and no expense has been spared in making DB one of the best equipped and organised shoe factories in the country.

Four years ago, DB Instock lines accounted for only 10-15 per cent of their total production. Now, the figure is in excess of 96 per cent. Youths' lines represent about 10-15 per cent of the total, covering sizes 11 to 5, and these will be considerably increased during the coming months.

Warehouse at Irthlingborough
Some of the shoes
The DB warehouse at Irthlingborough
Some of the shoes
Limited Number of Styles
In keeping with their motto "Quality, value and service" DB limit the number of styles produced. About 14 basic designs, with variations, make some 42 lines in their catalogue which also includes women's injection moulded footwear by Wilco Shoes, of Northampton.

DB are among the few manufacturers of men's injection moulded shoes in two fittings in this country, "normal" and "extra wide" being available from stock in certain styles. Their marketing policy can be simply stated—to give their customers 100 per cent service.

1970s shoes

Judging by customers' reactions they well and truly live up to that reputation. Not only do they give wholesalers and mutiples the backing of a first class instock service, but they also give considerably higher mark-ups than some of their competitors, the normal being 20 per cent for wholesalers and in excess of 33 for retailers.

DB have no intention of selling direct to the retailer for they feel that their future lies in supplying the wholesaler who, in their own words "needs us as much as we need him".

Boots Brogue

Looking at some of the shoes
Working In Close Harmony
DB Shoes work in close harmony with PM Footwear Agencies (Rushden), the head of whom, Mr Peter Mitchell, is a close friend of theirs. Mr Mitchell's co-director, Mr Bernard Garley, plays a leading part in the design of shoes for the DB range and is responsible for all patterns used in the factory. PM are sole selling agents for DB in England, Scotland and Wales (with Kane & Co (Belfast) acting as agents for Northern Ireland).

Much of the considerable success in the expansion of DB in recent years has been brought about by the teamwork which exists between the factory and sales side. This, in turn, has resulted in the strengthening of the trust placed by their many customers in DB's ability to provide an outstanding service to the trade. DB, in fact, regard their personal relationships with their customers as being of the highest importance.

Men 'at the wheel', so to speak, of DB are brothers Hugh and John Denton and company secretary George Eason. Both brothers share a love of fine engineering which manifests itself in their garages in the shape of vintage Rolls Royce cars. The brothers say of their cars: "They were made with great care and workmanship, and we like to think we occasionally attain similar standards when making shoes."

L to r: John Denton, Hugh Denton (DB Shoes), and Peter Mitchell and Bernard Garley (PM Footwear Agencies, Rushden).
W. H. Denton, George Eason and J. S. Denton
Left to right: W. H. Denton, George Eason and J. S. Denton.
Eyes on the Future
Hugh Denton, incidentally, is also an accomplished golfer with a five handicap. He holds the distinction of twice winning the NEWS silver bowl in the shoe trade's National Golf Championships—the only golfer so to do.

Both brothers have young families. John has three sons, aged 4, 2½ and 3 months and Hugh is the father of twin sons, aged 6½.

With their eyes very much on the future DB plan to launch a range of zip boots in October this year and already the new instock range for 1971 is being finalised. In addition, a new men's and boys' mould will be in production next year.

The company's future prosperity as they enter their second "half century" seems assured.

The two men responsible for founding Denbros, 79-year-old Mr J. S. Denton and his twin brother, Mr W. H. Denton, still serve on the board of directors and attend the factory daily. "Coming to the factory is an enjoyable part of our lives and we have no thoughts of retiring," they told the NEWS.

Although they are consulted on policy matters by their fellow directors, they leave the day to day running of the business in the capable hands of Hugh and John Denton, and George Eason, the company secretary.

They recall that they started the business in High Street, Irchester, after the first World War. Then, in 1934, they moved to Rushden in order to expand the business, where the name of Denton has been a household name in footwear for more than a century and a half.

But it was not only as skilled shoemakers that the twin brothers made their mark, for they were equally well known on the cricket field. They opened the Northants innings together for a number of seasons. Jack scored two centuries in the county championship, against Leicester and Sussex, while his brother held the record for the highest innings for Northants for some while with 230 scored against Essex at Leyton.

George Eason is also a long serving member of the firm, having joined the company in 1926 as their first office boy at a weekly wage of 7s. 6d. He was appointed company secretary in 1947 and became a director in 1952.

Story by Gordon Harmer

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