The corridors of power…

A rising star of British business, Parker, 46,has worked wonders reviving the Clarks brand since moving there in 1995.

Before Clarks he was employed by Kenwood Appliances, the maker of kitchen equipment. He led a management buyout of Kenwood and floated the business in 1992. He is taking a stake in Kwik-Fit and will work alongside Sir Trevor Chinn, the Kwik-Fit chairman.

But as Parker continues his relentless climb up the career ladder, what of Clarks’ chairman, Roger Pedder? Another highly understated businessman, Pedder wields considerable influence in areas that count. Pedder married into the Clark family but decided to seek his fortune elsewhere.

Following stints with BHS, Burton, Halford and Harris Queensway, he co-founded Pet City, the pet superstores chain, and shared in a £50m windfall when it was bought by an American company in the mid-1990s.

He is chairman of Robert Dyas, the homewares chain, and until recently was chairman of Odgers Ray and Berndtson – a headhunting firm which has Virginia Bottomley, the former Conservative cabinet minister – as a consultant.

On top of this, Pedder also leads the Lib Dem audit group with Lord Sharman. It all says a lot for the Clarks connection.

A decade ago, family infighting came close to tearing the company apart, but thanks to Pedder and Parker, business is booming. It’s just a shame that all those West Country shoe factories had to fall by the wayside.

  • Jon Ashworth is business features editor at The Times

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