Northern VCTs

Ex-Crabtree & Evelyn boss joins Mercia-backed footwear brand

Duke & Dexter (D+D) – the award-winning footwear brand which is backed by Mercia – has appointed David Stern, the former global CEO of Crabtree & Evelyn, as Chair.

David, who has over 30 years’ experience in retail and consumer brands and a track record for digital transformation, will help boost the global growth of the London-based company.

David, who started his career at the New York department store Macy’s, has managed global brands such as Lux, Dove Beauty and John Frieda and held senior positions at companies including Unilever plc, where he launched its first e-commerce venture. He has also founded and run his own home and personal care products business. Most recently he helped to transform Crabtree & Evelyn from a loss-making retailer with 400 stores to a fast-growing, profitable digital business.

Duke & Dexter was founded in 2014 by Archie Hewlett, then aged 19. The label, which won the Premium Footwear Brand of the Year at Draper’s 2017 & 2019 Footwear Awards, has found favour with celebrities including Eddie Redmayne, Ryan Reynolds, Justin Timberlake and David Beckham and has launched collaborations with American rapper Snoop Dogg and racing driver Jenson Button.

Its products are all designed in London and handmade in Sheffield from sustainably sourced materials. The company, which received a £2m investment from Mercia’s Northern Venture Capital Trust (VCT) Funds in 2019, now sells to over 120 countries through its own website and through international retailers including Harrods, Selfridges, The KaDeWe Group and Levels.

David Stern said: “D+D is a truly distinctive brand, distinguished by its style, quality and the fact that it is made in England. As a business driven by strong social content and followers, and sold via digital platforms across the world and backed by a leading investor, D+D is embarking on a period of rapid expansion which will take the brand to every corner of the globe.”

Archie Hewlett, CEO of D+D, added: “David brings a wealth of experience and has a seriously impressive track record for robustly scaling online, digitally-focused brands. In the light of the rapid digital transformation that has taken place, our main priority is on carefully building out our ecommerce channel across the globe. It’s a privilege to have David join us as Chair.”

David Stern was introduced to the business by Lisa Ward, Mercia’s Head of Portfolio Resourcing who is responsible for its external network of non-executives and board directors. Lisa said: “David’s understanding of e-commerce and digital marketing, product and brand, and his experience in driving growth through digital transformation at Crabtree & Evelyn, make a him a real asset for Duke & Dexter.”