When I joined AG Meek’s in the 1990s the manager of our Newport shop took me on a tour of the stockroom.
He pointed to 6 bays of floor-to-ceiling racks of brown boxes bearing the Dr Marten’s logo.
“Black boots are in those 2 bays” he said
“Then Cherry, then Purple, then Green. The shoes are in the two bays behind you.”
At that time DM’s were our biggest brand and cost £45
We’ve been selling Dr Martens since the 1970s when they were a cheap and customisable work boot.
They waned in popularity in the early 2000’s and Grigg’s, the family run business who manufactured Doc’s in Northamptonshire since the 1960’s, took much of the production to Asia to save costs.
In the summer of 2019 we received an email informing us that Dr Martens were closing our account as
“We no longer feel the Dr Martens brand sits comfortably alongside your offering and the other brands that you sell”
Dr Martens had decided that their customer base was 18 to 25 years old and we and our broad range of mature people didn’t fit their brand profile.
Our Customers are apparently too old for Dr Martens.
Also Dr Martens were in the process of withdrawing supply from all independent retailers to ensure total price control.
The truth was that Dr Martens had been taken over by venture capitalist, Permira in 2014 who had been pumping up the brand value.
First by raising the price from the then £70 (the equivalent price to £45 of the 90s) to £110
Then cranking it up further to £140 followed by withdrawing supply from all eBay sellers
In March this year they went public so the venture capitalists have extracted their profit. It also made their accounts available for public viewing and if you dig into those accounts
Dr Martens are now making 30% net Profit on the brand.
10% is very very good in normal circumstances. This means
You are paying £50 a pair for the Dr Marten’s brand name.
When Dr Martens informed us that they no longer required our business we were at first shocked and a little worried.
We realised we were a bit relieved.
because one of our main brand values is
value for money
And Dr Martens no longer meet our standard:
Their design was becoming formulaic.
- Black with thick sole unit and studs,
- Black with ultra thick sole unit and dull tartan,
- Black with ultra thick soles and studs
At £150 for basically plastic coated leather boots (so the cheapest leather)
An ancient sole unit technology originating in the 1940’s
Mass produced in China so a long supply chain
Also as the tools and last are now in China the copies were now flooding out of China.
Some of which are much cheaper and better quality.
The dear old Doc wasn’t meeting our brand values
So what does?
- Laura Vita for joy, quality and comfort
- Fly London for cool styling, exquisite leather, quality and comfort
- Rieker for latest technology, styling, quality and comfort
- Marco Tozzi for can't tell the difference till you're really close and buy a new outfit too
All these brands cost less than a pair of black 1460 Dr Martens.
All these brands supply excellent value for money.
All these brands don’t need 2 weeks of breaking in and blisters before they’re comfortable.