C. & J. Clark International Ltd, doing business as Clarks, is a British international shoe manufacturer and retailer. It was founded in 1825 by Cyrus Clark in the village of Street, Somerset, England, where the company's headquarters remain.
The company has 1,400 branded stores and franchises around the world and also sells through third-party distribution. Clarks also operated concessions in Mothercare stores.
The company is commonly known for its Desert Boot, an ankle height boot with crepe rubber sole, usually made out of calf suede leather traditionally supplied by Charles F Stead & Co tannery in Leeds. Officially launched in 1950, the Desert Boot was designed by Nathan Clark (great-grandson of James Clark) based on an unlined suede boot profile produced in the bazaars of Cairo and worn by British officers in the Second World War.
For the year ending January 2013, the company made a profit of £150 million on sales of £1,433m making it the 31st largest private company in the United Kingdom. More than half of its £1.4bn annualised sales to January were generated abroad. Since 2010, the company has begun to trade in India, where it now has 25 stand-alone stores, and relaunched marketing in China, where it has opened 400 outlets in partnership with local footwear retailers.
Clarks was 84% owned by the Clark family, with the remaining 16% held by employees and related institutions. In November 2020, after a company voluntary arrangement, Clarks was rescued through a £100 million investment by the Hong Kong-based private equity firm LionRock Capital, in which the Clarks family lost overall control of the company. In January 2021, Viva China Holdings agreed to acquire 51% of LionRock Capital, so has a substantial stake in the Clarks brand.