Seeking new opportunities

In 1990, William Lamb sold Gola to one of its distributors. Stuart recognised that the ‘big three’ at the time – Adidas, Nike and Reebok – were starting to dominate the market and secondary brands were being squeezed out.

Working with Gola enabled William Lamb to create a successful importing infrastructure. This led to the birth of the Made to Order business, which was to be crucial to the future success of William Lamb.

Stuart started his Made to Order journey by manufacturing uppers in China and keeping the finishing and injecting process in the UK. This strategy enabled closer control of product quality and the ability to produce bigger volumes.

As the 90s progressed there was a global shift to offshore manufacturing. Unlike many competitors, William Lamb invested in on-the-ground technical teams in Thailand and China to oversee high quality control. By early 2000 all manufacture had been moved abroad, but many of the UK shoemakers remained as shoe technicians, to ensure the overseas manufacturing was made to the highest standard.

The biggest growth engine in the 90s was character licensing. It was imperative to develop innovative products that brought the licensed brands to life.