Today is a fitting time to be introducing (or thanking) our next extended family members – Hammargruppen. Hammargruppen are not a stockists, but a distributor of Crockett & Jones shoe & boots into the Swedish market. Over time, they have become much more than this, but to begin with I would like to take this opportunity to speak about the last of a generation whom passed away a couple of weeks ago - Robin Guinness.
To all who knew, admired, laughed with and drank with Robin (or Mr Guinness), know all too well what a marvellous man he was. For those who didn’t have that pleasure, Robin was, without exaggeration, a legend of the shoe trade and, without exception, wholey loved by all. An incredibly affable man who’s sense of humour and stress free demeanour would calm the seas (pun intended) of every situation thinkable. Robin spent his life surrounded by customers, whom would prefer I refer to them as friends, whilst he regaled about a time when… Robin will be missed but never forgotten. Thank you for the incredibly hard work and commitment that you gave to Crockett & Jones.
Without Robin, none of the following article would have been possible. More than 20 years of enjoyable business in a market place that one could argue has done more for Goodyear-welted footwear than any other country in Europe. Mikael Pettersson started Hammargruppen in in 1986. In the beginning he ‘only’ repaired shoes but after a few years Mikael started to think about how he could expand his business. In 1990 Mikael began his journey towards becoming a footwear retailer and met with Robin to discuss his future.
Mikael: As a shoemaker I knew I wanted to sell shoes that would be worth the trouble of repairing, it was very important that the shoes had style and were of good quality. Materials were very important to us. Since that kind of shoes could not be found in Sweden, I started to look into the market in the UK, Northampton - The home of shoemaking.
I contacted the British Embassy and received addresses to different companies in Northampton, booked a flight and from here on in, I was on my way. After many days of visiting factories and talking to their owners, I finally found what I was looking for in Crockett & Jones through Mr Guinness… At this time, Mr Jones did not have time to see me! They had the style, the quality and uniqueness I wanted. Three years later, after many attempts to become a customer of Crockett & Jones our collaboration began.
At the beginning, apart from selling the shoes directly to customers, I sold Crockett & Jones to a small number of shoemakers and shoe repairers in Sweden. Over the years the number increased and today we have over 50 retailers in Sweden, Norway and Denmark all proudly stocking Crockett & Jones shoes. We distribute everything from our on shop in the south of Sweden where we also sell the largest Crockett & Jones collection outside of the UK, repair shoes and have a factory outlet where we sell discontinued styles and odd pairs at reduced prices. All purchases made online go through Grafford, our flagship store in Stockholm in which we became part-owners a few years ago.
How long have you been working with Crockett & Jones?
I have worked with Crockett & Jones for 26 years, starting 1993.
Why have you chosen to stock Crockett & Jones Shoes & Boots?
When I searched for shoes to sell in Sweden, Crockett & Jones had exactly what I was looking for; good quality, a classic style and furthermore I was of the impression that they offered good value for money. The company’s long family management combined with the careful method of producing the shoes, creates not only good quality but gives the products a unique and exclusive feeling when the management can tell you everything about the product; from the materials that are used to the production processes. This brings out the incredible quality of the shoes and shows the finesse it takes to make them. The customers do not only get good shoes when they buy Crockett & Jones, they get an experience and become part of that legacy.
Which style(s) do you think is the most iconic from the Crockett & Jones Collection?
I think that Connaught, Pembroke and Snowdon are three very iconic shoes from Crockett & Jones. They both have a classic style that never get old and appeals to everyone. These styles are beyond fashion, they are icons.
If you have any particularly fond memories of your time working with Crockett & Jones, we would love to hear and share them.
My very first contact with Crockett & Jones was with their Export Director of that time, Robin Guinness. He had been a part of Crockett & Jones since I was born and had worked hard to build up sales for them in the Middle East among other places. Robin was very sceptical of the idea of selling Crockett & Jones in Sweden. He did not think that it would work, since the company which successfully was marketing Absolut Vodka in Sweden had failed to sell Crockett & Jones putting doubt in their minds. If such a successful company could not sell Crockett & Jones in Sweden, why would I, a 23 year old shoemaker, be able to do it?
When I met with Robin an evening at the famous Northampton Country Club I explained my idea of a possible future collaboration between us. What I think stood out was my plan to sell the shoes to retailers who also were shoemakers, instead of ordinary footwear stores. That evening resulted not only in me managing to convince Mr Guinness of my corporation plan, but also in a business relationship and a friendship that has lasted for 23 years. Robin was a huge part of my life and I shall forever remember him.
Väpnaregatan 8, 254 52, Helsingborg, Sweden
+46 42 13 62 02