Suppliers of precision components to the shoe manufacturing & repair trade since 1863

SuperDark Autumn Promotion

Free heels tips for repairers!


Davies Odell LTD has announced an autumn promotion for their high quality SuperDark heel tips.

In a mass mail out the Rushden based company will be sending a free pair of the hard wearing heels tips along with an in-store poster to a large database of UK shoe repairers.

Designed to act as a reminder of the superb quality of SuperDark the accompanying poster will act as a prompt for consumers to specify the fitting of SuperDark heel tips.

Davies Odell sales manager Tim Soloman commenting on the promotion said "The most reliable products are often the ones taken for granted as they are always there doing exactly what they are supposed to do which is why they are very easy to forget! SuperDark is one of those products which is why we wanted to offer a reminder to the guys on the front line of just how good they are"

Superdark Top Pieces are available from quality wholesalers in a range of sizes and now a variety of colours.

New ITSHIDE sole & heel design

BRITGRIP - Traditional quality with a brand new design


New for 2014 the ITSHIDE BRITGRIP Long Sole and Heel units combine the excellent resistance to wear and high non-slip capacity of the Classic ITSHIDE Styles, the Commando, Club and Golfer, with a contemporary design based on the design of the Union Jack flag.

Initially available in black and brown, a range of colour options are also planned for the near future.

Davies Odell Managing Director Andy Gregory said "As a company we are immensely proud of both our long history and the fact we are a British company so when we were looking at new designs for the best-selling ITSHIDE range it made sense to celebrate being British with a classic design on a key product"

Available to manufacturers and repairers the new BRITGRIP is available from Davies Odell with immediate effect.


Now this isn't what you might think...there will be no tabloid revelations here! However, those of you who know Bob Mitchell of Davies Odell will perhaps be surprised to read that he recently celebrated 51 years with the company that he joined as a teenager ...on a temporary basis.


A young Bob Mitchell in the 60s or 70s

Despite his vast experience in the shoe repair trade Bob doesn't seem to relish being in the limelight, and rarely gives interviews. I have suggested to him in the past that he would make a good candidate for our regular 'Spotlight' feature but he has always politely turned the offer down.

He is something of a 'Man of Mystery' with International connections and apparent notoriety (more of which later!), so I was pleased to hear that as he has now almost reached the end of his career with Davies Odell he was willing to share with us just a few of his memories of the shoe repair trade and of some of the people he has worked and in many cases have remained his firm friends for decades.

I have only known Bob for six years since I became editor of Cutting Edge but whenever we meet he always makes me feel that I am a friend too. I was first introduced to him at the last of the Cutting Edge Exhibitions to be held at the old Wicksteed Park venue in Kettering. I was immediately struck by his self-effacing manner, his polite charm and his ready smile. It is unfortunately quite rare to meet a true gentleman in business these days but in Bob's case I think everyone who has been lucky enough to meet him will agree that he is just that.

But that's enough of the schmaltz (I'll bet you agree Bob?) and on with the story...

So where do we start? I thought it was probably best to let Bob tell us in his own words so I recently spent a pleasant hour chatting to him and first I asked him how he got his job at the company.

" I was almost 17 and was planning to start a course at my local Technical College in the Autumn. Actually I was just looking forward to a lazy Summer! However, at the time I was staying with my uncle who was the MD of Odell Leather company, as the company was called then and he simply told me "We can't have you waiting around doing nothing until then, we'll find something for you to do!"

"So within days I had joined the company and soon my ambitions to travel and see the world were put to one side - at least for a while. Before my uncle intervened I'd applied for a job at a local Travel Agency but heard nothing until about six weeks later I got an invitation for an interview. I went along confident I'd get the job. In fact I'd told Uncle that I wouldn't be staying with Odell much longer. Unfortunately my dreams were shattered when I was told I was too old - at 17! They wanted someone sixteen and a half so that they didn't have to pay them full whack and the delay in getting to see them meant I had had another birthday. So I had to stay with my job ... just until something better came along, of course!"

Mindful of his reputation I asked " I heard you were involved in some sort of a coup early in your career, Bob?"

"A coop. Not a coup." He said with a smile. "I spent my early years helping to look after 40,000 egg laying chickens! Even back in the Sixties all was not great in the leather trade and so although Odell's core business was leather tanning the Board decided to diversify and as one of my cousins who also worked there had a background in agriculture it seemed like a good idea. Unfortunately the project fell 'fowl' of problems - mainly in the shape of a huge pile of chicken poo..! In 1966 the holding pit was almost overflowing and locals were complaining bitterly about bowsers dropping piles of the stinking stuff on their way down the High Street so the department just had to close...There was some good news in '66 though. A fantastic footballing victory made my year..."

" Yes, England won the World Cup." I commented. " Much better than that..." he explained

" My local team, Northampton Town (The Cobblers) got their first win in the old first division against West Ham 2-1 away! I'll never forget hearing the news on my transistor radio on the train travelling back from the Shoe Repair Exhibition at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool. That was the last of those exhibitions for over 10 years but by the late Seventies I'd become quite used to exhibitions, and I'd started to achieve my ambition to travel. The best of the junkets... sorry, the trade and fact finding missions ... was the Semaine de Cuir in Paris. It was literally 'a week of leather', the most important event in the calendar for everyone in the leather trade. The evenings in at The Moulin Rouge weren't bad either!"

The Seventies were an exciting time for Bob. He had become used to travelling far and wide but one business trip sticks out for him. "I've been going to Ireland for about forty years and I love the place and the people. I have to admit I was scared though when I was sent to Belfast at the height of 'The Troubles' to visit three wholesalers. One was on the Crumlin Road not far from the infamous Gaol. I was staggered to see the premises wreathed in barbed wire! As far as I know I was one of just three salesmen from England who made the trip to Northern Ireland. One other was Eric Wilson. I'm pleased to say he and I became friends and that same connection continues with his son Chris who has taken the Charles Birch Group to great things.

In the Seventies the company diversified again into producing leather handbags as well as providing materials for quality shoe manufacturers and repairers. Bob spent ten years with handbags in hand (!) going around stores mainly in the West End in London. "That was until Margaret Thatcher, ironically famous for her handbags, increased purchase tax from 8% to VAT on them at 15% and the buyers at Selfridges, Debenhams, etc., decided to switch allegiance to Italian manufacturers."

Bob is on friendly terms with some Italians though. He has had an excellent long relationship with Vibram who supply Davies Odell with their famous soles. He has travelled the world with Davies Odell (the company merged with Davies & Co in the mid Nineties) and he has made dozens of business contacts - and friends - in countries such as Japan, Taiwan, China, Germany, Italy, Hong Kong, Hungary, Cyprus, South Africa, Russia, the USA and many more.

Recent visits to the USA have not been so good for Bob, or Robert John Mitchell as the US Immigration officials know him. He has been stopped and interrogated six times and has missed several internal flights in an ongoing case of mistaken identity. Apparently there is an 'undesirable character' at large and wanted by the USA by the name of Robert John Mitchell. Bob assures me it is not him. I think I believe him !

His visits to Russia have been much more successful. It is there that he met his fiancée!

Many of these friends and colleagues in the trade were brought together recently for what was apparently a poignant but joyful occasion.

About seven years ago Bob underwent an operation to remove a malignant spot from behind his ear. All seemed to have gone well and he continued to work enthusiastically past his 'official' retirement age. I remember visiting him two years ago at Davies Odell when he joked "They just don't seem to be able to get rid of me!"

However, some of you might know that in October last year Bob was diagnosed with what he was told is late phase melanoma. It was discovered that the disease had spread through his blood system to his liver. Despite this, Bob has continued to work on a part time basis while undergoing experimental treatment at Oxford Churchill hospital. He has already surpassed the original prognosis. Professor Mark Middleton, leads an international research team at Oxford, Bob's lead doctor is Australian and main research nurse is from Spain.

To celebrate this milestone Bob recently invited over 100 of the people who mean most to him from which 82 - family, friends, neighbours as well as customers and suppliers who he has known and liked for many years - to join him at his favourite hotel , The Ballymascanlon House Hotel near Dundalk for three days of 'craic'.

"I was just sorry I couldn't ask more to join us. I've been going there for more than thirty years and have seen it grow from a place with a dozen rooms to a 90 room hotel and spa with its own 18 hole golf course, pool and tennis courts. It was the perfect venue for a get together. I hope everyone enjoyed the event as much as I did. There were guests from ten nationalities and many had never met before but everyone got on well. I think it was best summed up with the sight of my Russian fiancée's son being taught how to play golf, a Scottish game, by an Italian speaking English on an Irish golf course!"

"I was glad to be able to thank the owners for their hospitality over the years, but more importantly I was able to thank many of the friends I've made during my time at Davies Odell... and it gave them the opportunity to tell me what they really think about me! Am I really so bad at time keeping and directions? OK maybe those forty unfortunates who followed me up the Cooley Mountains might just have been right..!"

"Despite what some people said about me..." said Bob with a wry grin as we finished our conversation, "although I've worked for one company there have been many aspects to my job and I've worked with various trades - from poultry farming to fashion leather handbags, to sport body armour - there is nothing to compare with working with the Shoe Repair Industry. It might be quirky, but it certainly has been an absolute delight."

I am sure we all wish Bob all the very best and all the luck in the world as he continues his treatment and I for one hope we will still be encouraged and entertained by one of the nicest characters in the business for a long time to come. Cheers Bob !

Tony Driver
Editor, Cutting Edge Magazine

Reproduced from the Summer 2014 issue of Cutting Edge Magazine

Davies Odell upgrades web site and brochure

Trade supplier lists full stock portfolio online

After a busy Winter Davies Odell have confirmed the latest update to their increasing on-line presence with a new look web site that matches their newest product range brochure.

Featuring all of the available current products from ITSHIDE, Comtesse, Commando, Phillips, SuperDark and repair products from Vibram the web site is in its first phase of development with further updates including, news, social media and a host of new products due later in the year.

Call 01933 410818 to receive a copy of the Davies Odell product brochure.

Super Dark gets bespoke colouring option

Personalised colours now available for high quality pin tops

Northamptonshire based manufacturer and repair trade suppliers Davies Odell have now added the option to choose bespoke colours to their Super Dark Pin Top range for that extra special personalised finish!

The high quality PU Super Dark pin tops are available to order in any colour by request and with the ability to manufacture at the Rushden factory, lead times and minimum quantities are being kept to a minimum.

Commenting on the new coloured Super Dark finishes Davies Odell sales manager Tim Soloman said "We have had a busy winter and after numerous requests from customers decided that amongst a host of other new products the Super Dark colour option was an obvious choice to add to the product line up, we have already received orders with some really exciting and vibrant colour variations"

For more information on the colour Super Dark pin tops or to receive a copy of the new product brochure please contact Davies Odell on 01933 410818 or click here