News Archive

Let’s take a look back at some of our best news stories from the past few years from charity days to Q and A’s in our news archive!



August 31st, 2017 – Footwear Retailer of the Month

How did you get into footwear? Tell us about your background and your current business?

I started selling shoes in our shops at 12 years old!  Following University I furthered my education and became a chartered accountant.  After having enough of accountancy, I worked in corporate finance for an investment bank.  After doing that I felt I’d rounded my skills and took the opportunity to join the business when we acquired several of DE Shoe’ stores in 2013.

2. Where are your premises located and how many people do you employ? Do you have a high turnover of staff? Tell us about your shop(s), the local area, your customers  and their requirements? 

We’ve got 9 shops located all over Scotland and have approx. 50 staff.  Our staff turnover is good and nearly all changes are due to personal circumstances changing which unfortunately, cannot be helped.  The area we cover is vast in terms of size so tastes vary greatly, there high demand for patent and “bling” in some areas and welly boots in others!  Being the only shoe shop on two Islands means we are the go-to shop for all age groups in some locations.  It makes buying challenging at times but is certainly interesting.

3. Do you have an online shop/website and do you use social networking for business?

Our website – – is going from strength to strength after launching in 2014.  Social media is important to us, we’ve got all the common social networks covered

4. How are you finding the footwear market currently?

We’re finding the footwear market challenging.  Some areas are performing better than others but no doubt customers are spending less on their shoes and are fussier than they have been in years gone by.  We feel political uncertainty combined with the oil crisis are the cause of this.

5. What’s selling well? Any particular trends? Which are your best selling footwear brands – and why?

We’re still quite early in the Spring/Summer season and the forecast is for snow so sandals haven’t moved much yet for us.  Seasonal colours in trainers/casuals have been really strong as a transitional product.  Best performing brand for us has probably been Clarks.

6. How important is shoe fitting to your business? Are you or any of your staff members of the Society of Shoe Fitters?

I am a member of the SSF and we now have 10 qualified shoe fitters in the business with another 4 currently going through their qualification.  We believe having staff that can advise a customer on a professional level is an important point of differentiation for us over our local competition and obviously, the internet.  Our hope is that customers will value our expertise and advice and keep returning to us for their shoes.

7. Does your shop sell other items besides footwear, bags, gloves, tights, socks, below the ankle products?

We’re very much focused on selling shoes these days.  Accessories are nice add-ons but can be time consuming to organise effectively.

8. Do you use an EPOS (retail technology) system in your shop(s)?

Thankfully my father is a computer programmer so has built our own bespoke EPOS system – it makes life nice and easy when we want to change/tweak something!

9. Any difficulties/problems?

Acquiring several DE stores has brought exciting changes for Begg shoes, representing a move in the right direction but it has also came with new challenges.  Managing the larger staff team and ensuring they are aligned with our values and trained to deliver excellent customer service has been a challenge but something we continually strive to improve.  We have a great team working for us and with the recent growth of our management team we will continue to work closely with our team to ensure we offer the best possible experience to our customers.

10. Any tips on stock offers, novel ideas for clearing lines or advice for independent shoe retailers who might be feeling the pinch?

Keeping control of stock levels is key for all independents and when volumes go down, you’ve got to make sure you do not try to buy your way out of the problem.  We’ve seen a lot of businesses get into trouble because they are buying more than is required.

11. What is your favourite men’s footwear brand/manufacturer – ditto ladies/children’s brand – and why?

Men’s – personally I like Ecco for their comfort & durability. Fashion wise they could improve but they do have a few good looking styles.

Women’s – Wonders – beautiful shoes made with love in Spain!

Kids – Primigi – they are popular with parents due to their quality and value and the styling is standout.

12. How do you select your products – which criteria do you use / what are your customers looking for?

We use a mixture of statistics, personal views and memory of good styles (& the bad!) to decide what we want to add to each shop.  Feedback from our staff is also an important factor we take into account.

13. Which footwear/fashion shows do you attend, how do you rate them?

We used to attend GDS but now go to MICAM as well as MODA.   We use Riva del Garda for sourcing MTO product.

14. Do you have a favourite footwear agent you can tell us about?

Steve (Heavenly Feet/Nordikas) – he presented the full range to us outdoors (minus 5 degrees!) in the middle of a Scottish winter – hardcore shoe selling!  Alan Bulloch is a good man but hasn’t braved the cold yet so doesn’t win! Sorry Alan!

15. Have you always had a passion for footwear? How many pairs of shoes do you own? Do you have a favourite pair?

I’ve got a lot of shoes and have been brought up from a young age speaking about shoes over the dinner table!  My favourite pair are brown suede Ara chukka boots that are very comfortable and look good with just about anything.

16. Any famous customers?

I believe Lorraine Kelly and Tilda Swinton are customers

17. And, the next step? Any plans for the future, new lines, retail systems/new technology, etc.?

My younger brother has just joined me in the business as we continue to bolster our management team in Inverness.  We’d like to expand further down south, potentially in Scotland or England, but would prefer to grow through acquisition rather than opening new stores.  Online growth is part of the strategy but it is a highly competitive market where Amazon are dominant and profitability is poor.

Footwear Today Article

May 8th, 2017 – Q&A with Donald Begg

Begg Shoes was recently featured in the Inverness Courier. If you’re not on Facebook or didn’t get the paper that day you can have a read here… Begg Shoes & Bags

Q. Tell me about your business and why people should choose you.
Headquartered in Inverness, Begg Shoes has become a leading independent footwear and accessory retailer in Scotland following growth in the number of stores we have and the rise of our website We go to great lengths to bring our customers high quality shoes from the world’s best footwear manufacturers.  This is backed up by a highly-trained customer service team instore and online. We have recently opened a brand new flagship store on Inverness High Street which gives us  the opportunity to showcase a wider range of products which we’ve never had the space to show our customers in the existing store on Union Street. We now trade from 9 stores from Orkney to Shetland and across the north of Scotland in Inverurie, Peterhead, Perth, 2 shops in Elgin plus the Inverness shops. Three years ago we launched our website which is now our 2nd largest store selling our shoes all over the world. Our website offers a unique combination of genuine instore knowledge and support, with a huge variety of products from our nine stores.  Free delivery, free click & collect and free returns to any of our stores, all from the comfort of your sofa.

 Q. How long have you run the business and what inspired you to start?
The business was founded in 1866 and is now the hands of the 6th generation of the Begg family. I joined the business over just over four years ago to support the acquisition of DE Shoes’ five stores.  Working in the family business has been a rare opportunity for me to help transform a business that is no doubt now bucking the trend in an extremely challenging retail industry.  My inspiration has come from my father, Garek, who has had to overcome many challenges in running the business over the past thirty plus years.

Q. Who should be given credit for helping your business move in the right direction?
A step change in the development of the business came with Garek Begg – ‘Dad’ to me – who has worked tirelessly to seek out new products for our customers. Some of the brands he found many years ago were not the globally famous names they are now eg. Ecco, Gabor & Rieker!  He has always been at the forefront of finding new things and making changes that have kept us up with the times.

Q. What would be the first thing you would tell a stranger about your business – in just one sentence of no more than 25 words?
At Begg Shoes we are passionate about quality footwear, style, comfort and service but don’t take my word for it, come and see for yourself.

Q. Describe the setback that you’ve taken the biggest lesson from?
Over the years Begg Shoes has faced its share of challenges, however the most significant has undoubtedly come from the internet. Initially many small businesses, including ourselves, feared the monumental technical challenges from internet for our traditional instore offering, where customers experience quality product and service first hand.

The internet has been a force for change and we have had to reinvent,  adapt and embrace the future. What we have learned is that we were we wrong to fear the internet. It has become clear from the success of our own online shop and Click and Collect service that our online customers value the high standards of service that we offer just as much as those who visit us in store. There is a great opportunity for small businesses like ours to reach a bigger audience without compromising on quality and service to get there.

 Q. What are your predictions for Inverness city centre for the next five years and what needs to happen for them to become reality?
Inverness City has been growing for some time and my prediction is that it shall continue to be a high quality tourist destination and vibrant shopping hub. We are just two stores among many unique and special shopping and leisure experiences on offer in the heart of the city and together, we hope to continue to draw people to Inverness.

In order to maintain and improve on what we see here today, there are major challenges for the government and local authority to face. From a retail perspective ease of access to the city centre should be a top priority; making it easy for people to travel here, to park and to see the best of our city.

 Q. Who has been the biggest influence on you personally in terms of business?
Undoubtedly my Dad, who has managed the business for the last 30 years and has created a truly unique and exciting business to be part of, with a platform from which we hope continue to grow in future

Q. What are the three characteristics that you think are most important to a business and why?
A great business must offer the best possible experience to their customers and there are three key characteristics of a great business: 1. Excellent customer service 2. Offer high quality, unique range of products which represent good value for money 3. A hard working, skilled and enthusiastic team working to deliver 1 and 2.  At the end of the day, a business is only as good as its people.

 Q. What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve received?
Try to seek marginal gains, improve every attribute in every possible way – even just a little – and it all adds up to success

Q. What would be your top tip for a new recruit? 
You have a great team around you – listen, learn everything you can and have fun!

Q. What was your first job?
Playing football for Caley Thistle where I signed a professional contract at 16. Unfortunately, I only lasted a year, having had my second knee surgery in under a year.  It was a great experience for someone of my age.

Q. What is your dream job and why?
A helicopter pilot!  I’d love to be able to fly places!

Q&A completed by ……Donald Begg (Director at Begg Shoes & Bags Ltd)



April 25th, 2017 – Grand Opening – our new Eastgate store

The grand opening of the brand new Inverness store (our second in the city) took place on Friday the 28th of April from 9:00-17:00.

Although we have opened our new shop on the High Street in Inverness, our existing store on Union Street remains open. So for those who are comfortable and familiar with it, not to worry, that location, collection of shoes and staff remain for your shopping pleasure.

new flagship shoe shop


November 30th, 2016 – Coming soon: our second Inverness store

Press RElease

Celebrating it’s 150th Anniversary this year, Begg Shoes is delighted to announce the acquisition of 12 Eastgate, Inverness, which formerly traded as Ortak.  The news is positive in that it will see siInverness Shoe Shopgnificant investment in a City Centre property that has now been vacant for nearly 3 years and has been one of the many eye-sores in Inverness.  The Begg family have continued their expansion in bricks and mortar shoe retailing by acquiring the property.  The development comes at a time when retailers are increasingly seeking to reduce the bricks and mortar presence and focus on e-commerce.  Donald Begg, explains why their strategy goes against the grain of most retailers:

“We’ve seen a continued decline in footfall in most of the towns in which we trade, the exceptions are in towns or cities where parking is readily available, the selection of shops and cafes is attractive to consumers and/or there is a vibrant tourist trade.  We feel the availability of parking in Inverness could be a lot better and hope politicians, planners and councilors will act but in the absence of that ever happening, we feel Inverness’s prime sites can still have a strong retail sector which is why we have invested in the new store.  This owes predominantly to there being a clear uplift in tourism and visitors to Inverness.  What is the cause of this we cannot be clear but longer term, with accessibility to the Highlands improving with the duelling of the A9 and major investment coming soon in renewables we think Inverness will have a strong economy provided political invention doesn’t put a spoke in the works.  Investment in the City Centre, combined with improved parking facilities will be critical to Inverness getting out of this rut.

“Next year, the April business rates revaluation should provide a massive boost to City Centre retailers as we believe business rates will fall in the region of 20-40% across the board (to reflect the massive declines in footfall and revenues since 2008).  This will encourage new entrepreneurs and businesses to open up, with them customers will be enticed back into Inverness.  Karaoke bars, tanning salons, charity shops and vacant units are not terribly alluring to most.  We have suffered unjustified business rates for years and this is a major cause of all the closures (like Poundstretcher and many others).  All stakeholders need to grasp the importance of business rates in this debate.  Trends towards e-commerce are not the main cause of the demise of many businesses over the past 5-10 years.  Business rates need to reflect footfall and parking needs to be affordable and accessible.”

Inverness Shoe ShopHe continued to explain how the changes in the business in the past 2 years have paid dividends:

Our business is going from strength to strength.  Our website is now our biggest store – sales have increased by over 200% on last year.  In the stores, we are seeing a broadening customer demographic as new brands have introduced a younger customer to our stores and have better aligned us with changes in fashion and trends.

The final piece of the jigsaw has been down to our focus on providing specialist Shoe Fitters as a free service to our customers.  This has also proven to be a big hit since we started working with the Society of Shoe Fitters earlier this year.  Our staff have gone through a 5 month course, it is far more onerous than courses provided to staff by the likes of Clarks.  We now have 9 Professional Shoe Fitters in the business and this count is growing.  Customers can trust the advice and service we give.  These days in retail, truly knowledgeable and helpful service is a rare thing but something we value greatly.


November 4th, 2016 – Breast Cancer Donation

wear it pink posterRecently our Inverurie Shoe Shop held a Wear it Pink day in conjunction with the Breast Cancer Now charity during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This is a worldwide annual campaign involving thousands of organisations, to highlight the importance of breast awareness, education and research.

During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Breast Cancer Now aimed to get as many people as possible involved in raising awareness and funds for breast cancer research to which Begg Shoes was happy to get involved with by wearing it pink for the day.

How did Begg Shoes Inverurie Get involved?

On Friday the 21st Hayley and her team from the Begg Shoes Inverurie Shoe Shop decorated the shop in pink for the Breast Cancer Now #wearitpink charity drive. Begg Shoes committed to donating 10% of all sales on the day to this great charity as well as collecting donations in store for the charity. We are happy to say that a total of £300 has been donated this year. Thank you to all involved who made this possible.


October 17th, 2016 – Press Release: CLAN Supported by Begg Shoes

CLANThe heart of Kirkwall was transformed into a purple celebration on Sunday, 2nd October, all in the aid of charity. Organised by Kirkwall BID, and supported by almost 50 businesses, Kirkwall’s High Street was transformed into a ‘Girls Day Out’ in support of cancer support charity CLAN Cancer Support.

Begg Shoes Supports CLAN

Supporting the event was Begg Shoes, which pledged a percentage of sales on the day to CLAN. The company’s support resulted in £200 being raised for CLAN. Fiona Begg said Clan is a cause close to my heart as my father used this facility some years back while he went through intensive radiotherapy.  I will always be grateful for the tremendous support and help CLAN provides at the most challenging times.  As a business, we are delighted to show support for CLAN in Orkney which provides a vital service to outlying communities. We support specific local charities and this year we will also be donating the Kirkwall Carrier Bag Levy for CLAN to help in their ongoing work.
Karen Scott, CLAN Cancer Support’s Orkney Area Coordinator was delighted to be able to thank the team from the shop in person.
She said: “The support shown by the Orkney community to CLAN is fantastic. To see the whole area transformed on the day and to see so many local organisations getting involved was very special and I cannot thank them enough for their support.
“Each donation CLAN receives helps to ensure that the charity can continue to provide and develop cancer support services in the heart of communities, not only in Orkney but across north-east Scotland, Shetland and Moray.

CLAN - Girls Day OutAbout CLAN

CLAN Cancer Support is an independent charity that provides comfort, support, and information, free of charge, for anyone, of any age, affected by any type of cancer. CLAN aims to support people to reduce anxiety, stress and to increase their ability to cope with the effects of a serious illness.  Based in Aberdeen, the charity covers the whole of north-east Scotland, Moray, Orkney and Shetland. CLAN has a presence in Ballater, Banchory, Buckie, Elgin, Inverurie, Fraserburgh, Lossiemouth, Peterhead, Stonehaven, Turriff, Kirkwall and Lerwick.
For further information about CLAN Cancer Support please call (01224) 647 000 or visit

Issued by Citrus: Mix on behalf of CLAN Cancer Support. For further information, please contact Jessica Murphy on 01224 439976 or email or contact Susanne Shepherd, CLAN Cancer Support, on 01224 647000 or email


June 24th, 2016 – Leaving the EU – Shoe Prices to Jump?

How on earth can this impact on buying a pair of shoes, sandals or boots you may ask. The simple answer is – in more ways than you can ever imagine. The shoe trade has been globalised for many years now and was preceded by the rundown of shoe manufacture first in Britain followed by most of the shoe factories in more developed Europe. Nowadays, not only is footwear made all over the world (mainly in the Far East), but the components which go into making shoes are likewise bought and sold across many international borders – in US dollars!

We all think of shoes in £-Sterling our local currency however, virtually all footwear sold in the UK is imported and paid for in US dollars or Euros. The financial market jitters today following today’s BREXIT vote mean that shoes, along with most other imported goods, are definitely going to cost much more in the future.

The exception to the dollar problem could be the smaller volume, better quality end of the footwear market in which our business is involved; much of these goods are still made in Europe. However, the £ has so far dropped 5% against the Euro which means, that these shoes will not be immune to a price hike. Surely we won’t end up with borders tariffs to add to this but we can be certain to say there won’t be a better time to buy a new pair of shoes than now, at least not for a number of years!

This post was written by Garek Begg.