Dr Martens profits fall by more than half after giving £ 49.1million in bonuses to staff

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By Harriet Johnston For MailOnline

Klaus Märtens was a doctor in the German army during World War II. On leave in 1945, he injured his ankle while skiing in the Bavarian Alps.

He found that his standard military boots were too uncomfortable on his injured foot.

During his convalescence, he designed improvements to the boots, with soft leather and air-cushioned soles in tires.

When the war ended and some Germans collected valuables in their own towns, Märtens took some leather from a shoemaker’s shop. With this leather, he made a pair of boots with air-cushioned soles.

At the end of the 1960s, skinheads began to wear them, “Docs” or “DMs” being the usual denomination.

Märtens did not have much success selling his shoes until he met an old college friend, Herbert Funck, a Luxembourger, in Munich in 1947.

Funck was intrigued by the new shoe design, and the two launched that year in Seeshaupt, Germany, using rubber discarded from Luftwaffe airfields.

Comfortable insoles were a big hit with housewives, with 80% of sales in the first decade to women over 40.

By the late 1970s they were popular with punks, musicians and members of other youth groups (pictured Ian Dury in shoes)

By the late 1970s they were popular with punks, musicians and members of other youth groups (pictured Ian Dury in shoes)

Sales had increased so much by 1952 that they opened a factory in Munich. By 1959, the company had grown sufficiently that Märtens and Funck considered marketing the shoes internationally.

Almost immediately, the British shoe manufacturer R. Griggs Group Ltd. purchased the rights to manufacture the shoes in the UK.

Griggs anglicized the name to ‘Dr Martens’, reshaped the heel slightly for a better fit, added the brand’s yellow stitching, and filed the soles as AirWair.

In the late 1960s skinheads began to wear them, “Docs” or “DMs” being the usual denomination, and by the late 1970s they were popular with punks, musicians and other members. youth groups.

Boots and shoes became more and more popular in the 1990s with the onset of grunge fashion.

In 2003, the Dr Martens company came close to bankruptcy. On April 1 of the same year, under pressure from declining sales, the company stopped manufacturing shoes in the UK and moved all production to China and Thailand. Five factories and two stores have been closed in the UK and more than 1,000 company employees have lost their jobs.

After the closures, R. Griggs only employed 20 people in the UK, all at the company’s headquarters.

Five million pairs of Dr Martens were sold in 2003, half the sales level of the 90s.

In 2004, a new line from Dr Martens was launched in an attempt to appeal to a larger market, and especially young people.

Boots and shoes became more and more popular in the 1990s with the onset of grunge fashion.  (pictured, the Madness group wearing the boots)

Boots and shoes became more and more popular in the 1990s with the onset of grunge fashion. (pictured, the Madness group wearing the boots)

The shoes and boots were designed to be more comfortable and easier to put on, and included new design elements.

Global sales of Dr Martens footwear rose sharply in the early 2010s, and in 2012 it was the eighth fastest growing UK company.

In 2018 ten million pairs of Dr Martens shoes were produced, of which only 1% were in the UK and in 2019 Dr Martens announced plans to double the production of shoes and boots in the UK to 165 000 pairs per year in 2020.

The boots have a branded yellow stitching which was added by British shoe maker R. Griggs Group

The boots have a branded yellow stitching which was added by British shoe maker R. Griggs Group

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