CEO, Start-Rite Shoes
Ian Watson is CEO of children’s footwear brand Start-Rite Shoes, a business that has proudly fitted more than 1,500 pairs of shoes for the British royal family. Ian is the first CEO not to be from the Start-Rite founding family, who launched the business in 1792.
He caught the eye of the shoe firm after achieving impressive results at Britax Childcare, a global leader in child car seats and strollers. During his tenure with Britax, profits increased in the European division by more than 80% and he was part of the management team responsible for its sale to Nordic Capital in 2011 for £446 million.
He is now committed to preparing Start-Rite for its next chapter, having put a clear strategic vision in place and executing a new award-winning brand identity. The core values of the past have been re-invigorated with significant investments in research to ensure consumer needs and expectations are met.
Its headquarters have been redeveloped with an open plan office and new technology to enable a contemporary culture. Ian has also introduced training programmes to upskill the team and is focusing on new ways to attract talent from local universities.
The introduction of new distribution processes has seen a reduction in packing time from three minutes to 15 seconds for eCommerce orders.
Despite his success and ambitious vision, Ian’s feet remain firmly on the ground.