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John White - 'In Step'

The House Journal of the John White Group

A few headlines from the front pages of the Group magazine “In Step” from the 1960s record some of the major changes that were then happening.

Changes to the heading too.
1966 - 1967 - 1969

November 1966 Vol. 2 No. 4

Big Changes In John White Top Management ....

Mr. Basil Lindsay - Fynn To Retire From The Chairmanship
Mr. George Mcwatters Appointed

Mr Lindsay-Flynn
Early last month Mr. Basil Lindsay-Fynn announced his intention to retire as Chairman of John White Footwear Holdings Limited. Mr. Lindsay-Flynn was appointed Chairman in 1962 and has been a Director of the Company in a non-executive capacity for more than 30 years. Announcing his retirement, Mr. Lindsay-Flynn said:

"When I was asked by my fellow Directors in 1962 to become Chairman of the Holding Company, I pointed out to them that I had other commitmentsandthatI was even then over 60. Nevertheless under the circumstance of the time I felt it was right that I should accept their invitation.

Some weeks ago, I informed my colleagues on the Board of my intention.......

Mr. George McWatters comes to us from his family's business, Harveys (the sherry people) of Bristol, which he built up from a small Company with a limited and specialised market into one with a world-wide market and an inter­national name.

Mr. McWatters' abilities are widely recognised outside his former trade and his membership of the Board of Martins Bank, of one of the Boards of the Eagle Star Insurance Company and of the Committee of the Automobile Association are valuable facets of the experience he brings to us.

Message to Employees

Through the medium of "In Step" Mr. Lindsay-Flynn addressed the following message to all employees:

"In commending Mr. McWatters to you I do so in the sure knowledge that he is a natural leader who will make a great and wholehearted contribution to the future of our Company. In introducing you to him, I know I can tell him with confidence that he can rely upon your support and enthusiasm in the task he is going to share with you. He brings to John White a proven record of constructive success in business and we are very fortunate to have him join us."

Mr. C. Metcalfe

The Board regret that Mt Charles Metcalf who has done a great deal for the Company, did not find it possible to support the appointment of Mr McWatters, the terms of which were unanimously agreed by the rest of the Board. Mr. Metcalfe has therefore tendered his resignation as Director and consequently has given up his other appointments in the group, with the exception of the Chairmanship of Cyril Norris & Son which the Board have specifically asked him to retain and which Mr. Metcalfe has accepted.

JOHN WHITE'S New Chairman

Mr McWatters
Mr. George McWatters has been appointed a director and chief executive of John While Footwear Holdings, and will become chair­man when Mr Basil Lindsay-Flynn retires from that position at the end of the current year.

Mr. McWatters was born in India in 1922 and was educated at Clifton College, Dublin.

He served during the war with the Royal Scots and the 14th Punjab Regiment on the North-West Frontier of India, with the rank of Major.

He left the Army in 1946, and joined the family wine company of John Harvey & Sons Limited, in a clerical capacity the following year. He was awarded a Vintners' Scholar­ship in 1947 after six months' study of the wine industries of France, and Portugal...................

Vol.3 No.2  July 1967

John White are making women's shoes again

Picture from Vol. 5 No. 2 August 1969
Rita Hodgson
Rita Hodgson, 21-year-old Ammanford employee, flew to Singapore to train......
New Life and Hope for a Welsh Town

John White Footwear have made a triumphant return to the women's shoe field and have brought new life and hope to a Welsh town where unemployment is well above the national average.

Production of women's shoes is being concentrated in the John White factory at Ammanford, Carmarthenshire, which since late 1963 has been used for closing room work only.

Three top appointments

John While Footwear Limited announce the appointment of Mr. Martin O'Connor, 64, as Managing Director. Mr. O'Connor, who has spent half a century in the shoe trade, is already the Vice Chairman of the Group's main trading Company.

Mr. O'Connor began working in the shoe trade in Rushden as a boy in 1917 and   joined John White as Production Director seven years ago.

Married with two daughters, and five grandchildren, he is President of the Northamptonshire Footwear Manufacturers Association, of which he has been a committee member for 25 years...........................

Vol. 5 No. 2 August 1969

Wearra Bid In Balance

The John White Group's bid to acquire all the issued share capital of Wearra Shoes Limited was poised delicately in the balance as IN STEP went to press. At that time, the Directors of Wearra had rejected our first bid and we had countered with an improved offer worth about £900,000.

By the time you read this. the points of issue may have been resolved, and the first steps taken towards Wearra becoming an important unit within the Group. If the merger of the two great Northamptonshire companies does come about, then the Group will be financially stronger than ever before - to the benefit of both staff and shareholders.

Half year reports by both John White and Wearra showed that the two companies were faring much better than some other foot­wear manufacturers. Our profit to the end of June was in excess of £135,000. compared with £91,000 in the comparable period last year. Wearra profits to March 31, at £81,000, were £7,000 better than in the same six months of 1967/68.

Why is John White interested in acquiring Wearra? The Group Chairman, Mr George McWatters, told IN STEP that the factories of the two companies were close to one another. By integration on the manufacturing side and consolidation in the marketing.....

Mr. John White
Sentimental Link

Eighty-four-year-old Mr John White, founder of the Group, has both a sentimental and a business interest in the bid for Wearra.

In 1902, at the age of 17, Mr White joined the Express Works, at Irthlingborough, Northants, which is still the heart of the Wearra Organisation. He was already a skilled clicker, having started in the footwear industry as a boy of 12 on a wage of 18 pence a week.


Just before the works closed for the annual holiday, the second and final consignment of the 50,000 pairs of shoes ordered from John White by the Soviet Union, was despatched for shipment.   

Leaving the factory..............

As it left the factory the consignment was gaily emblazoned with John White labels, to tell the world that the shoes were on their way.

The order, which included 20,000 pairs of the Permanized range of shoes, was produced in the Lime Street, Higham Ferrers and Newton Road factories. The order required delivery of 25.000 shoes by the end of June and the second 25,000 pairs by the end of July, so delivery was bang on time.  

John White can be very pleased at the size of this order. Under the five year trade agreement between the Soviet Union and this country.

Dupont Sell 20,000 Pairs In Three Weeks Sales Drive     

Dupont Brothers Limited, the well known London and Provincial credit organisation, sold over 20,000 pairs of John White Permanized shoes in the recent Sales Promotion. Duponts are one of John White’s largest customers and the 20,000 pairs were sold to the public in a three week period, which was an excellent achievement.

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