Where it all began…
Billy Robinson opened a shoe repair shop in St. Bride’s Street, Carrickfergus.
Billy moved the shop from St. Bride’s Street to North Street in Carrickfergus.
Current Chairman, Robin Stewart, bought the business from his father-in-law. George Chambers, who had worked for Billy in 1954, also came back to work for the company.
This year could easily have been the end for Robinson’s. By this point, George had retired to look after his wife and Robin had no one to repair shoes. He went in one day to close the shop. While he was clearing the shop out, a local estate agent came in to have two pairs of shoes repaired. It was a simple job, and Robin decided to do it himself to make a bit of extra money. Robin then realised that he didn’t need a fulltime shoe repairer – he did the simple jobs himself and took more complex jobs to a repairer in Belfast.
Robin moved the shop to premises at the bottom of North Street with space upstairs to display shoes. This soon became Robinson’s Shoes’ first ever showroom.
In the early 2000s, Robinson’s started to sell shoes in earnest, becoming more than a shoe repair shop. In 2003 the company started selling Barker shoes.
Robinson’s Shoemakers Ltd. was established in Market Place, Carrickfergus. In the December, Robinson’s started to make bespoke shoes. At the time, there were no shoemakers left in the country, so Robin advertised for shoemakers in a Polish magazine and received 27 applications. Despite this being during the height of the economic crash, year-on-year sales were increasing as Robinson’s was offering something different to its competitors.being during the height of the economic crash, year-on-year sales were increasing as Robinson’s was offering something different to its competitors.
This was a key year for Robinson’s Shoes. Our ethos on fittings, which we regard as being at the heart of our business, was born. By this point, we stocked shoes from several leading brands, and began to understand the importance of different last shapes. We realised that a shoe could be the same width and size (length) but fit very differently on different people. We developed a revolutionaryfitting system in the years that followed, it is still in place today and continues to be carefully adapted as we gain more knowledge with every customer. Really, it deserves a mention in each section of this timeline as it is so central to our company, how we do business, and how we have done business over the years.
The exclusive Robinson footwear brand was created. The first style was the Robinson Andrew Jackson in whiskey. The Andrew Jackson was made on the traditional Barker 29 last in three widths: F, G and H; this was based on the knowledge gained from our fitting system and meant the shoe could accommodate a greater range of people. It was also in this year that robinsonsshoes.com was launched – the company was open to the worldwide market.
Robinson’s Shoes became the Official Footwear Partner of Ulster Rugby, supplying dress shoes to the team and a selection of staff members.
The second Robinson’s Shoes store was opened in the prestigious Queen’s Arcade, Belfast in July 2018. Only a month or so later, there was a fire atthe historic building housing Primark’s flagship store. The fire caused some surrounding shops to shut temporarily and footfall in Belfast dropped dramatically in the weeks and months that followed. However, despite this upset,the first year in Belfast was a great success for Robinson’s.
The Carrickfergus showroom moved from West Street, opening as a new Outlet Store at the site of the old Kelly’s Coal offices, overlooking Carrickfergus Castle, in March 2020.