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Ward White

Northampton Mercury & Herald, 12th April 1973

Healthy Order Books

All companies in the Ward White group, the Rushden shoemakers, have healthy order books and their factories are under pressure to raise production, says chairman Mr. George McWatters in his annual report.                 

He adds that with benefits still to come from the re-organisation following the merger of John White and George Oliver which created the group, he looks forward to a year of progress.

In 1972 not all the group’s factories were fully occupied and some Ward companies did not make a recovery from pre­vious loss positions. But the group as a whole recorded good results, with profits topping the £1 million mark for the year.

Evening Telegraph Friday, May 9, 1975, transcribed by Sue Manton.

'Factory will not close'

John White’s, the Higham Ferrers based shoe group is seeking up to 30 workers to help boost production. And it has moved to kill rumours that it is closing its Newton Road, Rushden factory. Managers visited the factory yesterday to deny the reports.

The rumours started when the company decided to centralise its clicking operation at Lime Street, Rushden.

Eighty clickers – 40 from the factories at Newton Road and Higham Ferrers – are being moved. The old canteen at Lime Street has been closed. The John Whites' shoe shop will be moved into the canteen building over the weekend. The room it formerly occupied will be used for storage.

Ward White managing director Mr. Philip Birch said. 'There’s been a little more pressure on production over the last few weeks. With short-time working, production lines tend to get a little unbalanced so the extra staff is needed to smooth things out.'

He said the increased work was a temporary measure – and it was difficult to see whether it would last.

'The re-organisation of the clicking operation is something we’ve had in mind for a number of years,' he said.

News Echo, Thursday 8th January 1976, transcribed by Kay Collins

Going from Higham to 33 Countries
Local shoe bosses are battling against footwear imports with a mammoth export drive.

During the first eight weeks of this year, executives of the Higham Ferrers based Ward White group will visit 33 countries in a bid to increase orders.

The globetrotting venture is the most concentrated export drive yet mounted by the group, already Britain’s largest exporter of men’s and boys’ footwear.

The sales drive covers countries from Scandinavia and the Middle East to the United States and West Africa.

Northampton Mercury & Herald, 18th March 1980

Shoe firm buys US footwear group

WARD White, the Rushden based shoe group, today announced a £7 million move into the U.S. footwear market, writes a City correspondent.

The company has bought the Pittsburgh-based Childs Corporation, which distributes safety footwear.

Profits made by the U.S. group over the year to the end of January, 1980, totalled just under £2 million.

The price being paid for the business is around £7 million, and will be raised mainly by a new shares issue.

News of the group's first move into the U.S. came today as they disclosed a near £1 million increase in profits last year.

Pre-tax totals for 1979 rose to £5,790,000, shareholders get 50 per cent boost in their total dividends, at 4.20p a share.

Northampton Mercury & Herald, 29th July 1980

Footwear firm expands

AN AMERICAN safety footwear firm, which was taken over by a shoe firm in Rushden, has expanded. Ward White Group Limited acquired Childs Corporation in April. It is the third largest distributor of safety footwear in America, and operates a chain of shops.

Its safety footwear sales team will be considerably strengthened and their fleet of vans, which sell direct to industry, will be increased.

There are also plans to open a new shoe store in Memphis, Tennessee.

Mr. Philip Birch, Ward White's Managing Director, said: "I have just completed a tour of the Childs stores in Tennessee and the Carolinas and was much impressed by all I saw.

"Our American subsidiary is traditionally strong in the south and I am confident that Childs have another potential winner in the new Memphis Outlet.''

Northampton Mercury & Herald, 24th March 1981

Firm shops around

WARD White, the Rushden shoe firm who wanted to buy K Shoes last month, has been on a spending spree in the US, Sweden, and Australia.

And the company are still looking for firms they can take over in the UK, according to managing director Mr. Philip Birch.

Mr. Birch, who has just returned from the States, said today that having failed in their bid for K Shoes—eventually taken over by Clarks of Somerset—they are going ahead with acquisitions and developments elsewhere.

In America they are in the process of buying two retail groups, in Sweden they are expanding a retailing company they took over last year, and in Australia they are negotiating the purchase of a safety products company,

"We are looking for acquisitions of substance at home and hope to announce soon the purchase of a small chain of highly profitable retail shops," he said.

Ward White's expansion programme is one of the success stories of an otherwise failing footwear industry.

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