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INDEPENDENT SHOE BUSINESS FEATURE - WARDS

Wards is a family business situated in the heart of Derbyshire, run by third generation Alison Mansfield and her husband Justin.

Founded in 1954, the company has four shops in Bakewell, Belper, Workshop and Chesterfield and prides itself on offering an exceptionally broad selection of footwear for the whole family, as well as a range of gifts, handbags and accessories.

Josef Seibel is stocked in Wards’ Bakewell and Belper shops, which provide premium footwear to locals and the many visitors to these picturesque towns which proudly boast an array of independent retailers which give them their Derbyshire character. Wards’ Bakewell shop is housed in a listed building and was sympathetically redeveloped two years ago. Earliest records show that the building has been home to a shoe shop since 1897!

Owner Justin describes the team of 28 as ‘one big family’ with many long-standing members of staff. The manager of the Bakewell shop, Jane, has been with the business for an amazing 47 years!

In keeping with the surrounding landscape which has some of Britain’s best rolling hills and countryside, Wards specialises in casual footwear with boots, trainers and sandals a mainstay of the ranges. The product selection is a blend of classic styles, waterproof walking footwear and styles which pick up on current trends. Chunky ‘biker’ boots are currently popular. Wards customers love colour and quirky shoes and Justin explains that a yellow shoe will often sell out before a black one.

“Our customers love shoes they may not see so readily in many high-street stores. Josef Seibel is a great brand for us, the range is ageless and appeals to a large proportion of our customer base. The Linas, Fergeys, Fiona, Neele prints and Steffi groups have been particular hits with our customers.”