Celebrating 25 Years of Munro
Munro is the leading women's size and width footwear company in the U.S., and we are proud to have had an exclusive Australian partnership with Munro for 25 years. Just like Peter Sheppard Footwear, the business is family-owned, sharing values similar to our own with a focus on quality footwear for every woman.
To celebrate 25 years of partnership with Munro, we sat down (virtually) with Director of Operations, Mollie Munro, to reflect on the last few decades and find out what we can expect from Munro in years to come.
Mollie, please introduce yourself! Give our customers an insight into your role at Munro and what it’s like working for the family business.
There are five kids in our family, and while all of us are owners, only three are involved in the shoe business on a daily basis. It’s great to work with family but it has unique challenges – the most notable being the need to keep the workplace only about business. Our history together is lifelong, and our relationships are shaped by many things besides business. We must work hard to treat each other as professionals, not the brother that used to put crawdads down the back of my shirt or the sister that used to tattle on me to Mum! I am currently COO, so I am involved in all operational aspects of the business, like manufacturing, finance, and administration. In the past I was in sales, marketing and advertising. My sister Christine handles those duties now.
What is your earliest memory of working with Peter Sheppard Footwear?
Listening to my brother Bruce (our CEO) come home from London and tell us about this great retailer in Australia who was going to try our brand! It was a pivotal moment for us because up to that point our sales were US based, and Peter Sheppard’s reputation was well known internationally. But what I will never forget is my first trip to Australia to meet the Sheppard family and staff. I was incredibly nervous – first impressions are so critical and I was worried my skill set (or lack thereof) would reflect badly on the brand. I shouldn’t have worried. Everyone at Peter Sheppard Footwear embraced me as family and overlooked any deficiencies. I can tell you that there are no better fit professionals anywhere in the world (and I have travelled extensively in the last 25 years and have met hundreds of retailers).
The last 18 months have proved challenging. How has Munro adapted to the obstacles the pandemic has presented?
We were very lucky because Arkansas, where we are located, never completely shut down and allowed many businesses to operate with proper safeguards and protocols in place. Though we had to cut hours and restrict expenses, we were able to keep our key staff. This was critical to the survival of our factory as shoe making requires very specific knowledge and skills that cannot be replaced from the general labour pool – years of training are required.
Munro has always been known for its reliability to produce shoes of every width and size for women. How have you stayed true to this disposition over such a long period of retailing?
We love the challenge! Sizes and widths require large upfront investments in tooling, materials and inventory, so you must really understand your customer and give her exactly what she’s looking for because mistakes are much costlier. This is just as true for a retailer of sizes and widths – they must buy far more inventory and understand the fit characteristics of hundreds of brands. There is no way to learn that from a You Tube Video!
What exciting things can we expect from Munro in the future?
We are broadening our category offerings so we can provide a more complete wardrobe of footwear and lifestyle options. Munro has always provided great fit with an emphasis on function: comfort, style longevity, versatility. In recent years, we have started adding broader colour assortments, designs with a little more detail, and outsoles with a little more edge. The great thing about shoes is that each season offers new opportunities; it’s a wonderfully dynamic industry.
Munro is available narrow, medium, wide and extra wide fittings. This broad range of fittings ensures every woman, no matter their footwear requirements, can purchase a pair of Munro shoes. To browse Munro’s range of speciality fitting shoes, please click here.