Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Kirk & Kirk appoints Hugh Clark of Clarks shoes family as chairman

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High fashion eyewear designer and manufacturer Kirk & Kirk, Brighton-based has appointed Hugh Clark of the Clarks shoes family as its new chairman.

Hugh Clark is a family shareholder in the renowned C&J Clark Shoes, and acted as a non-executive director of the group for more than a decade. C&J Clark is now one of the UK’s largest private businesses, at number 37*, recording a turnover of more than £1.5bn last year.

Clarks Shoes is most famous for its iconic Desert Boot which it launched in 1950. The brand has also been sported by a number of celebrities including Pharrell Williams and Wu Tang Clan.

Prior to this, Hugh worked at Rohan Designs, including six years as Managing Director. Rohan Designs is a designer, supplier and retailer of outdoor clothing which reported a £30m turnover last year. Most notably, one of their jackets was worn by the first climber to the summit of Mount Everest without supplemental oxygen.

Kirk & Kirk produces a distinctive range of luxury glasses and sunglasses. Chief Designer Karen Kirk’s designs have been worn by Elton John, Julia Roberts, U2 and Oasis, amongst others. The glasses worn by Gary Oldman in the Batman films were also designed by her and Prue Leith wore a number of Kirk & Kirk frames on the recent series of The Great British Bake Off.

Hugh Clark will be investing into the business through the private investor network Growthdeck, which recently launched an EIS-qualifying investment opportunity into Kirk & Kirk.

Kirk & Kirk will use Growthdeck’s funding to launch an online-only retail collection, design a new 2020 collection, and update the company’s ecommerce platform.

Growthdeck says that Hugh Clark’s extensive experience with large-scale, high-profile retail businesses will be a hugely valuable addition to Kirk & Kirk’s board as it scales up. Kirk & Kirk has increased sales by 43% over the year to £752,800 (year-end July 31st 2018, from £525,400 in 2016/17. Growthdeck says the company’s turnover is projected to reach £1.3m in 2019/20 and £6.8m by 2022/23.

Hugh is also chairman of the Institute for Family Business, which supports the growth of family-run businesses and lobbies on behalf of them.

Hugh Clark says: “I am very excited to be part of the development of Kirk & Kirk.

“This is an ambitious fast-growing business which has the potential to be a major player in the fashion accessories market, both in the UK and overseas. I’m looking forward to helping the Kirk family and their investors realise that ambition.”

Gary Robins, Head of Business Development at Growthdeck, says: “Bringing the experience and expertise of someone like Hugh Clark to help Kirk & Kirk expand is what sets Growthdeck apart from other investors. We’re thrilled that he has agreed to advise the business as it looks to scale up rapidly.”