1. Hi, I'm the owner and main administrator of Styleforum. If you find the forum useful and fun, please help support it by buying through the posted links on the forum. Our main, very popular sales thread, where the latest and best sales are listed, are posted HERE

    Purchases made through some of our links earns a commission for the forum and allows us to do the work of maintaining and improving it. Finally, thanks for being a part of this community. We realize that there are many choices today on the internet, and we have all of you to thank for making Styleforum the foremost destination for discussions of menswear.

Nick V. Interviews William Church, Joseph Cheaney and Sons Shoes

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by Nick V., Nov 1, 2011.

  1. Nick V.

    Nick V. Distinguished Member Dubiously Honored

    Likes Received:
    Nov 12, 2007

    Editor's note: As an ongoing series, one of Styleforum's resident footwear experts, Nick V. of B. Nelson Shoes in NY, will be compiling interviews with shoe industry insiders, including company owners, designers, and other personalities. Next up is William Church, co-owner of Cheaney. Stay tuned for a piece with Nick Horween soon.

    Check out Nick's previous interviews:
    Paul Grangaard, CEO of Allen Edmonds


    Nick V.: How was Church's English Shoes founded?
    William Church: Founded in 1873 by three brothers: Thomas, William, and Alfred, alongside their father Thomas, Sr. who wanted to bring what was prior to this date a cottage industry into an industrialised factory workplace to improve throughput time and productivity. Ethos was, and always has been, to focus on quality end of men’s Goodyear-welted shoemaking.

    What was it like growing up in the Church family?
    Great—I remember as a young kid being taken into the factory on Saturday mornings and enjoying the novelty of the intercom phones, the photocopier, and exploring what was, to me, a huge factory.

    Can you describe your own background?
    Public school at Stowe, both me and Jonathan, my third cousin and Cheaney co-owner, went there as did our fathers. Then a degree in real estate management from De Montfort University followed by 5 years working as a real estate surveyor in commercial property in London, then to Church's. I subsequently did an MBA at Warwick University part time.

    How did you get started in the company? What relatives got involved?
    Never an obligation to attend but always an attractive option. Jonathan and I are part of a fifth generation shoemaking family. My father, John, and Jonathan's father, Ian, were both chairmen of Church Group.


    When did you decide to get into the business? Why?
    At 27 years old. The attraction for working for a family business albeit stock exchange listed. Also happy to move out of London back to my Northampton roots where I was born and bred.

    Cheaney was a sister company to Church's. What was their relationship?
    Church acquired Cheaney in the 1960s for its brand but also to enable the group to do private label work for other brands, which Church did not have capacity for. Also the Cheaney factory was additional manufacturing capacity for Church's shoes

    What companies did Cheaney manufacture for?
    Over the years very many—in fact if you look into our heel sock stamp drawer you will find practically every Bond Street brand past and present that Cheaney made for.

    How would you compare Church of the 1980s to the 2000s?
    Still very well-made, handcrafted shoes—one of the main differences is into the retail store network with new openings and refurbishments—also investment in the factory premises has been extensive.

    What are your plans for Cheaney?
    To grow and develop the brand and make the most of the huge, innate skill potential that lies within the business.


    I always saw Cheaney as a great value for a traditionally made British shoe. Do you plan to continue with that mindset?
    Very much so. We are 100 percent made-in-England and totally committed to this. Of the brands that are made in England we offer very good value footwear—since our acquisition we have enhanced the ranges, improved product quality and exhibited at international trade shows. With Cheaney you get a lot of shoe for your money! We are 125 years old this year.

    I also noticed some upgrades, such as fiddle waists and finishes. Tell us about your direction in that area.
    The Imperial collection is a small upper-end collection to demonstrate the finest craftsmanship Cheaney can achieve. We were doing similar work for other brands unattributed to Cheaney so we thought we would do it in our name too.


    What is your target market?
    [B]The discerning shoe buyer who wants not just classic but classic with a contemporary edge.[/B]

    Where are you currently distributing?
    [B]Primarily UK but also Japan and some mainland European markets. Plus our own retail stores in London. One opened last year—another to open next month.[/B]

    How do you plan to expand on that distribution?
    [B]Through distributors and / or sales agents. Plus our own stores.[/B]


    Your new website, what can you tell us about it?
    Even better photographic representation of product, transactional, downloadable i-brochure.

    Where do you see Cheaney Shoes 10 years from now?
    Good question—higher volumes through factory. Enhanced global distribution. Better consumer brand recognition. Cherished for its heritage craftsmanship.

    Thanks Mr. Church!

    Last edited: Nov 3, 2011

  2. UrbanComposition

    UrbanComposition Distinguished Member

    Likes Received:
    Aug 6, 2010
    San Francisco
    Nice. I just bought some Church's.

  3. Achilles_

    Achilles_ Distinguished Member

    Likes Received:
    Sep 16, 2010
    Subscribed to read later :)

  4. onix

    onix Distinguished Member

    Likes Received:
    Jan 19, 2009
    Great interview. Thanks Nick.

  5. adt 1984

    adt 1984 Member

    Likes Received:
    May 12, 2011
    arlington va
    Nick, you killed it again with the interview. Keep up the great work. :slayer:

Share This Page

Styleforum is proudly sponsored by

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.