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Bootmaker makes great strides with Danish deal
A BOOTMAKER is helping the fight against terrorism after securing a deal to supply footwear for troops serving in Afghanistan.
Alt-Berg, in Richmond, North Yorkshire, is making 12,000 boots a year for the Danish Army.
The company, which is Britain’s last boot manufacturer, will handcraft boots that will be worn by members of Denmark’s 650-strong army.
The deal is for an initial five years and comes after Alt-Berg won a contract to make 50,000 pairs of combat footwear for the British Army every year.
The company, which also makes boots for more than 30 UK police forces, was set up by Darlington-born engineer Mike Sheehan with his redundancy money after Fairfield Footwear shoe factory closed in 1989.
It employs 22 people in Richmond and a further 55 staff in its factory in Treviso, Italy, with production recently expanding to Romania where 1,000 pairs of boots are made a week.
Mr Sheehan, owner and founder of Alt-Berg, said the Danish deal would safeguard the company’s future, adding the rising demand could lead to the creation of jobs in the future.
He said: “We’re very pleased to receive the contract because it helps to guarantee our employment in the Richmond factory and secures work in certain areas.
“It is hard to say for sure at this stage, but once the contract gets under way, towards the end of this year, it may require additional resources.”
The company sells its boots to walkers, climbers, mountaineers, trekkers and even telegraph-pole climbers across the world, and expects its turnover to reach about £6m next year.
Mr Sheehan said the company’s success revolved around hard work and a commitment to quality.
He said: “In the early days, things were very bleak and we had some days when we had no money, no orders, and the machines kept breaking down. I didn’t know if we could last another week but I was taught that when times are bad, you have to concentrate on making good boots.
“That’s what we did, and that’s what we still do.”