New markets and the growth of licensing

Sadly, David died very suddenly in June 1982 leaving a widow and three very young children. Stuart lost his brother, business partner and best friend.

Nevertheless Stuart had to focus on the business and forge ahead. He wanted to fulfil a vision that David and he had discussed many times to tap into the import market and blend their UK production with production overseas. This opportunity came when Stuart started to supply Gola. Previously competitors of William Lamb, Gola had contracted their business and ceased UK production the previous year. When Gola was put up for sale by owners Electronic Rentals plc. Stuart saw this as a wonderful opportunity to buy the business and capitalise on the established partnerships with factories overseas.

That same year, noting the increasing popularity of Peanuts’ Snoopy, Stuart embarked upon his first character license venture and took the Snoopy license. This was the beginning of a new era of character partnerships for the William Lamb business.

The 80’s were all about innovation. The company pioneered the first multiple width training shoes for Startrite (Gola SRI) and later Clarks, as well as injection mould plimsolls with velcro fastening, which was a huge success.

As the sportswear industry grew, so did the newly merged company of Gola Lamb Ltd. The company used its footwear knowledge to develop the Gola brand for the clothing market, recruiting a whole marketing and sales team from Puma to develop sports clothing.