St. Peter's Church

Vere Street



Footwear Friends Annual Awards final

The Judges



Shoemaking is in Tim's blood as both his father and grandfather were shoemakers. Tim has been in the footwear business for over 30 years. He stated his career with Bata France as a graduate trainee. He then went on to work for Lambert Howarth Plc in 1986 in various roles, culminating in becoming Managing Director of the Company. In 2001 he became Managing Director of OPS Ltd. before finally becoming Cobbler-in-Chief at Oliver Sweeney. Tim is involved in every part of the shoemaking process from sourcing the finest leathers to working closely with the company's Italian family run factory in the Marche region.

He has been a member of the Footwear Friends Executive Committee for a number of years.








Rachel King started her career at C&J Clarks as a technical student in 1991 having completed her studies at Bournemouth University. On completion of the two-year professional course in shoemaking, Rachel moved to the Clarks Ilminster Factory. She held a number of posts including Head of Product Development. In 2002, Rachel was approached to join the UK Product Development Team at Clarks' headquarters in Street where she became Children's Sports and Seasonals' Product Development  Manager. In 2007, Rachel moved from Children's to Women's Product Development, and headed up the Women's Casual Collection. This brought with it fresh challenges including: adult aesthetics, new constructions, complex sourcing and challenging ex-factory cost negotiations with Brazil.  In 2008 Rachel was again approached to take a new challenge - that of the newly created position of Design Studio Manager. The key responsibility of this role was the management of the day-to-day management of the 34 employed and consultant designers, located both in the UK and internationally. 2011 saw the opportunity to move back into Product Development as Head of Women's Footwear, Handbags and Accessories, located in Street.  In this role she managed a team of seven product engineers overseeing the entire process and output of Clarks UK office Women's product - including collaborations with Liberty, Eley Kishimoto, Mary Portas and most recently Orla Kiely. In 2016 Clarks restructured and Rachel was appointed to the newly created role of Head of UK Adult Retail and Fitting. This role gave her the additional responsibility of Mens and Original's PD and fitting alongside the Womens and Accessories collection.


Ben has spent over 30 years in sales of footwear to the private and volume retail sector. Starting out with Intershoe of America working with high end brands like "Nickels" and "Via Spiga" selling into grade independents, followed by a 10-year period working as the Northern Sales Representative for Laceys Footwear of London.

The next career move was to a Dutch importer called "Intermedium Footwear" where Ben spent 19 years as their UK and Ireland Sales Manager.

He joined Micro-Pak Ltd. as UK and Ireland Sales and Operations Manager in April of this year.


Malcolm has been in the retail industry for over 40 years. He started his career in retail management working for Clarks and then moved into the buying side with Clarks based in Street, Somerset. This covered buying for their own retail stores as well as with the wholesale and manufacturing teams.

He then joined New Look to set up the footwear business . Following early success drove New Look to be the major retailer of footwear in the UK. This then also included the success of all areas of accessories to become destination stores for footwear and accessories.

Malcolm now runs his own retail consultancy business covering retail, buying and sourcing and recently joined Shoe Zone as a non-executive director. Malcolm is also a member of the Executive Committee of Footwear Friends.

FF Awards 2014 Ben Wright 2 Marco Ellerker Managing Director Lifestyle Division Pentland Brands p


Rachel King tim-cooper (2)



Caroline Groves is a bespoke women’s shoe and bag maker based in the North Cotswolds. Caroline brings over 25 years experience in leather working and traditional shoemaking to her eponymous label set up in 2003. During this time she has established herself as one of a very few truly bespoke makers in the world with a loyal and elite international clientele. She travels bi-annually to the USA with a trunk show.

Caroline is a member of the Worshipful Company of Cordwainers and also proud to have mentored a number of now established and emerging young designers.

Caroline Groves