Clarks hires PR support for supply chain crisis plans

Clarks, the world’s largest non-sports footwear brand, has drafted in the Hogarth Partnership on a crisis brief to look at possible supply chain problems to emerge as the firm expands globally.

The move follows a four-way pitch and comes in response to the company’s increasing use of manufacturers in countries such as China and India.

Clarks PR manager John Keery said: ‘We wanted to have advice available for crisis issues that might or might not arise.’

The agency team, to be led by Hogarth partners Chris Matthews and Andrew Jaques, will report to both Keery and Clarks marketing director Rosemary Carr.

The account won by Hogarth effectively replaces the previous corporate account, which had been held by Luther Pendragon for the last ten years, according to Keery.

‘The situation has changed since we first appointed Luther Pendragon,’ said Keery. ‘Previously there were discussions about Clarks going public, so we took on Luther. Those issues are now resolved and flotation plans are completely on ice,’ he added.

Clarks has been privately owned throughout its almost 200-year history. In the past two decades the company has moved away from manufacturing its own products to developing a supply chain across the world, including in developing countries.

In 2001, Clarks sold 15 million pairs of shoes overseas. Keery said the firm regards overseas markets as holding the biggest potential for the brand.

The type of reputational issue that can affect supply chains in the retail sector include the four-year legal battle over alleged sweatshop practices that was fought between clothing workers on the Pacific island of Saipan and fashion brands Gap, Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein, among others.

This was settled in April with a £30m payout to the workers.

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