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Clarks to Cut 900 Jobs, Focus on Sustainability and Digital

C&J Clark Ltd. today laid out the latest facets of its turnaround strategy, which includes massive job cuts and a focus on sustainability and digital enhancements.

According to the comfort-shoe maker and retailer, the initiative — rolled out late last year and dubbed “made to last” — now sees the company putting added emphasis on areas like product innovation, design and quality, as well as digital upgrades to make the shopping experience more engaging for customers.

It will also include a reduction of approximately 900 corporate roles globally, balanced by the creation of 200 new positions over the next 18 months, the company said. When the Clarks-maker introduced the plan in 2019, about 170 employees left the company globally at the time.

“A new brand strategy focused on exploiting the brand’s potential, leveraging its heritage, its iconic timeless shoes and their consumer relevance in today’s market,“ said CEO Giorgio Presca, in a company statement. “It will focus on sustainability, product innovation, design and quality, and digital enhancement to help customers properly interact with the Clarks brand, and select and buy shoes in the most convenient ways for their lifestyle.”

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Clarks is also strategizing how to address short-term liquidity needs due to the closure of stores around the world in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Since closing stores in March, it is in the process of reopening in China and some markets in Europe.

As the company moves forward, it’s also taking a hard look at expanding its use of digital and social media channels to connect with consumers, as well as capitalizing on iconic looks that have resonated with customers for decades.

“To ignite our emotional connection with consumers, we have organized Clarks’ brand portfolio across three distinct business units that each represent a unique segment of the shoe market — Clarks Originals, Clarks, Collection and Cloudsteppers by Clarks,” said Presca.

This restructuring announcement follows another disappointment for the company. Just last year, reported FN, it was forced to shutter its sole remaining U.K. factory after failing to reach production and cost targets. The company opened the facility only a year prior, marking the first time in more than a decade it had produced footwear in the U.K. The firm also had plans to roll out 10 such factories in other countries over the next several years.

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