Clarks to Close UK Factory Just One Year After Its Opening

Clarks has confirmed its plans to shutter its sole remaining U.K. factory after failing to reach production and cost targets.

The company opened the state-of-the-art robot-assisted facility in the village of Street in Somerset, England, last year, marking the first time it had manufactured on its home soil in more than a decade. [Clarks moved its production to Asia in 2006.] The Somerset unit, called Morelight, was expected to create as many as 80 jobs and churn out roughly 300,000 pairs of the brand’s classic Desert Boots annually (about half the total number it manufactures globally each year).

Clarks planned to roll out up to 10 more such factories in other locations across the U.S., Europe and Asia over the next several years to make a wide range of styles for both adults and kids. But the scheme hit a snag with the announcement that the Somerset facility would be closed down, resulting in 35 job losses. Ten other employees have been transitioned into new roles within the company.

“Despite our best efforts, the levels of production and cost targets we hoped for [at Morelight] could not be reached in the short to medium term. Following a period of consultation, the proposal has been accepted, and the factory will close,” Clarks said in a statement. “We have a strong duty of care to all of our employees and have been supporting them through this process, offering outplacement support and identifying alternative roles at Clarks. We’re pleased that 10 employees have taken up a new roles within our business, but regrettably, the remaining 35 employees will be leaving us. They leave with our thanks and best wishes for the future.”

The factory’s surprise closure comes on the heels of last week’s appointment of Golden Goose and Geox alum Giorgio Presca as Clarks’ new CEO following the resignation last year of Mike Shearwood amid allegations of misconduct.

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