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Ian Watson

Chief Executive Officer

Hotter Shoes

London, UK

Ian Watson
Marcus Watson
Adoreum Partners
Bertie Way
Salamanca Group

Ian Watson’s Biography

Ian Watson is the visionary CEO and driving force behind one of the UK’s most successful shoe brands, Hotter Shoes.

As the UK’s largest specialist footwear brand, Hotter Shoes sells over a million pairs of shoes a year to more than four million customers around the world. Ian is credited with having accelerated the company’s digital growth, and Hotter Shoes is now seen as a major player in the e-commerce space.

By re-positioning Hotter Shoes as a digitally-led, direct to consumer e-commerce platform, Ian has successfully navigated both the Covid-19 pandemic and the downturn in the traditional bricks and mortar retail environment, helping to ensure the brand’s longevity, growth and investment opportunities.

Since leaving school at 16, Ian has earned the respect of his peers as an astute, engaging and charismatic business leader. He began his career at Shipley Ronal, a speciality chemical supplier, before moving to Irwin Industrial Tools in Germany. It was here that he honed his skills in international strategic management and progressed to the role of Vice President Europe / Asia Pacific.

As European Managing Director of Britax Childcare, Ian was part of the management team that prepared the company for its successful sale to Nordic Capital for £446M in 2011. Ian was pivotal in strategic changes leading up to the sale and oversaw an 80% increase in profitability.

Building on his experience of the youth market, Ian became CEO of Start-Rite Shoes, the first to be appointed from outside the family. Under his successful leadership, he steered the company away from the high street and focused on developing the e-commerce side of the business, helping it to become less dependent on its wholesale arm and equipped to deal directly with consumers.

Ian is a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Pattenmakers, Governor at the Norwich University of Art and was a Non-Executive Director of Global Chair Components Ltd.

Ian Watson’s Newsfeed

The Business Desk
Hotter Shoes heading for flotation later this year

Earlier this week, Hotter, headed by chief executive Ian Watson, announced it had launched its biggest people development programme. The UK’s biggest shoe manufacturer said it aims to upskill its teams across several specialisms, enabling the business to respond quickly to customer orders.

Hotter aids Skelmersdale growth as it embarks on its largest training programme in 50-year history

Ian Watson, CEO of Hotter Shoes, added: “There’s no doubt that our teams do an incredible job, manufacturing 1.3m shoes a year is no small feat! 

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Ian Watson’s Background

Hotter Shoes
Chief Executive Officer
Mar 2019 - Present
Skelmersdale, UK
Hotter Shoes (Hotter.com) is the largest footwear manufacturer in the United Kingdom. The company sells over a million pairs of shoes a year and have been manufacturing specialist footwear that combines both style and comfort since 1959.
Start-Rite Shoes Ltd
Chief Executive Officer
Feb 2016 - Jan 2019
Norwich, UK
Start-Rite Shoes Ltd is a British family-run business that specialises in designing comfortable shoes for children. With the expert knowledge of biomechanics experts, Start-Rite Shoes ensures they meet both a child’s developmental and lifestyle needs.
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Ian Watson’s Gallery

Current Board Positions

Norwich University of the Arts
Governor
Norwich, UK
Norwich University of the Arts is a public university in the UK that focuses on education in art, design and media.

Previous Board Positions

Global Chair Components Limited
Non-Executive Director
Nov 2017 - Mar 2020
Reydon, UK
Global Chair Components Ltd is a leading chair components and contract furniture supplier in the UK.

Memberships

Worshipful Company of Pattenmakers
Liveryman
London, UK
The Worshipful Company of Pattenmakers is a City of London Livery Company that received its Royal Charter in 1670. It was originally established as a trade association for patten makers in 1379, a trade that was first recorded earlier than the 12th century.

Ian Watson’s Education

Financial Times | Board Director Programme
Non-Executive Director Post Graduate Diploma
2011 - 2012
Chartered Institute of Marketing
Post-Graduate Diploma in Marketing
1999 - 2000
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