Clarks ‘robot-assisted’ shoe factory in Street may close

Clarks HQ
Image caption The company started making shoes in Somerset in 1825

The shoe retailer Clarks has announced its UK factory could close.

The firm opened a new manufacturing unit in 2017, featuring “robot-assisted” technology, at its headquarters in Street, Somerset.

Up to 300,000 pairs a year of the footwear firm’s desert boots were to be made at the facility, creating up to 80 technical and managerial jobs.

But the firm is now consulting on its closure after those targets were not met.

“Despite best efforts, we have determined that the levels of production and cost targets we hoped for will not be reached in the short to medium term,” Clarks said in a statement.

They are now “proposing to cease production and close the facility” and staff are subject to a 30-day consultation process.

“We have a strong duty of care to all our employees and will ensure they are actively supported throughout the process,” they added.

The company started making shoes in the county in 1825 but production was moved from to the Far East in 2005.

The last remaining Clarks plant in the UK – Millom in Cumbria – closed in 2006.

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