Fears over family shoe shop after Dr. Martens gives it the boot

Mohammad Rafique at Blueberry Hill.
Mohammad Rafique at Blueberry Hill.

Famous boot brand Dr. Martens has suddenly stopped supplying to a family business in Dewsbury after more than 30 years – sparking fears that it could close within a year.

Staff at independent shoe shop Blueberry Hill, in Bradford Road, were shocked to find out in January that the retailer – which provided around 70 per cent of its stock – had decided to sever ties.

Anjun Rafique, 50, the son of 76-year-old owner Mohammad, said: “It just kills us. We’re being punished for being a small business.”

Dr. Martens told Mr Rafique in April 2016 about its plans to cease its supplies but they came to an agreement and Blueberry Hill continued to sell the boots.

Then last month when Mr Rafique tried to make an order, he was told that the account had been closed.

He believes that the supplier wants to create more custom at its own brand shops in Leeds.

Mr Rafique said: “I was left out in the cold.

“We earn our living from Dr. Martens. We’re the last independent shoe shop left in Dewsbury. We will have to shut down by the end of the year.

“It’s heartbreaking. We put in 70 hours a week, seven days a week. We’ve been plugging their boots for 30-odd years. There doesn’t seem to be any loyalty.”

A spokesman for the brand said: “To position Dr. Martens for the future and help us serve our consumers better, we have undertaken a review of our wholesale account base.”

He said that as a result, it is “selectively reducing” its number of wholesalers and focusing on its own stores, e-commerce platform and remaining wholesale partners “in order to offer our consumers the most engaging and rewarding experience”.