Church’s is a high-end English footwear manufacturer founded in 1873 by Thomas Church and his three sons. During the 1990s the company came under the control of Prada which bought 83% of the company at US$170 million. Prada later sold a 45% stake to Equinox, a private equity firm.
|Founder||Thomas Church and his three sons|
Between the two world wars Church’s became actively involved in the development of the footwear industry in general. In 1919 the British Boot, Shoe and Allied Trades Research Association was created with Church’s as a founder-member. As a result of this partnership, the Northampton Technical College was established in 1925. This went on to become the University of Northampton in 2005.
The family business was taken over by Prada in 1999, and has since then expanded its outlets overseas. As of 2014, the company employed 650 people. The same year, Church's took over adjacent premises in St James Road, formerly a tram and later a bus depot, in anticipation of further expansion which could add up to another 140 jobs.
Its main installations are located in the St James area of Northampton, with an estimated production capacity of 5,000 pairs per week, 70% of which are exported all over the world. Besides products sold to resellers and individual customers, the company also has several of its own retail stores, including ones in Jermyn Street, London, George Street, Edinburgh, and Pacific Place, Hong Kong. It has 50 stores across central and northern Europe, America, Hong Kong, China, Singapore and Japan.
During Pierce Brosnan's tenure as James Bond, various selections of dress shoes from the Church's range were used in production. Lindy Hemming, who was the costume designer explained the choice of Church's shoes as having the appropriate weight to complement the silhouette of the tailored Brioni suits she had commissioned for Bond.
Mr Bean (portrayed by Rowan Atkinson) wore a pair of black Church's on the TV show and in the movies.