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Royal visit to Sheffield footwear manufacturer


HRH The Princess Royal visited Sheffield to open Goral & Son’s new premises, in her role as President of the UK Fashion & Textile Association (UKFT).

Goral & Son is a fourth-generation independent family-run business manufacturing the finest traditional handmade footwear in Sheffield. The company operates from new premises with modern production facilities and old fashioned craftsmanship.

Shoes are still crafted entirely by hand, from hand cutting of the leather components through assembly, stitching and final polishing.

In addition to its own brand, Goral offers footwear development and production for other labels.

Goral, which employs around 40 skilled craftspeople, is a member of UKFT’s Federated Member British Footwear Association (BFA).

Director Dominik Goral is a passionate champion of the UK footwear manufacturing industry and is keen to raise the profile of the sector to ensure it attracts new talent for the future.

Her Royal Highness met with Goral employees as well as Lord-Lieutenant of South Yorkshire Andrew Coombe, High Sheriff of South Yorkshire Barry Eldred, Sheffield City Council Chief Executive John Mothersole, British Footwear Association Chief Executive John Saunders and UKFT International Business Director Paul Alger.

She was given a tour of the factory, viewing each stage of the footwear process from clicking through to closing.

Dominik Goral, Director of Goral & Son, said: “We can proudly say we have control over our shoes from start to finish and we are delighted to welcome The Princess Royal to our factory to see for herself how each pair is made here in Sheffield.”

Paul Alger, International Business Director of UKFT, added: “The traditional process of manufacturing shoes is labour intensive, takes time and careful hand work with more than 200 individual processes required for one finished pair. It is our privilege to be able to shine a light on this kind of skilled manufacturing, which features the best of British craftsmanship infused with contemporary, modern touches.”

John Saunders, Chief Executive of BFA, said: “Although the UK footwear manufacturing sector has been talked down for many years, things have started to change for the better. Today there are 4,000 people making 5.4 million pairs of shoes in the UK and producers are working hard to satisfy the increasing demand for British-made footwear.”

These royal visits form part of UKFT’s Let’s Make It Here initiative, which celebrates Britain’s rich manufacturing heritage.

UKFT’s Let’s Make It Here website allows designers and brands to search by product type, support services or location, to make it easier to source in the UK. The database covers all stages of the supply chain, including yarn, fabric, garments and accessories, as well as ancillary support services, such as pattern cutters.

The website attracts significant interest, not only from the UK but globally, with many of the enquiries coming from overseas, providing those listed with export opportunities to promote the heritage, efficiency and craftsmanship of UK manufacturing.