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The year 2008 was to mark a new dawn for Footprint Tools. As well as relocating our entire operation from Hollis Croft to more suitable premises in Hillsborough, Sheffield, we had put in place some exciting plans to invest in some major pieces of equipment.
We had purchased a fully automated grinding line for all our flat bladed products with cutting edges such as wood chisels, knives and tinsnips: we had ordered a new forging hammer from Germany together with a new bar heater and automatic transfer line.
All in all Footprint was putting itself into an excellent position to take full advantage of not only its enviable reputation in the hand tool market but to move into other areas utilising the versatility of the new forging equipment. Then the world changed...
The 2008 recession was truly global and hit us particularly hard in our largest market, the UK construction sector, which virtually stopped overnight in June of that year. By the end of 2008 we realised that recovery was to be a long haul so began looking at the options open to us. In the first quarter of 2009 we explored many of these including merging with other similar businesses or obtaining external finance to complete our development plans.
However those options proved to be unsatisfactory so the decision was taken towards the end of April that the company would put itself through a major restructuring and conduct an in depth range review. This process occupied all of our time for the next six months and by the end of September we were in a position to relaunch ourselves, initially with Footprint wrenches, Footprint Line pins and decorators tools including the popular hacking knives.
The line pins were shortly joined by other builders tools in the form of the unique Footprint style of cold chisels and bolsters together with our range of high quality joiners tools. Other items, such as wood chisels and planes, manufactured to our exacting Footprint standards, have continued to be available, particularly in the United States and in Canada.
An important element of the reorganisation was a change of name from Footprint Tools Limited to Footprint Sheffield Limited. This, in part, reflects a change in emphasis in that for some years we have been associated with the University of Sheffield on a number of advanced manufacturing projects. The change in name is perhaps why there have been rumours circulating that Footprint went out of business: it most assuredly did not.
Footprint Sheffield Limited is now the main operating company, manufacturing the world famous range of Footprint brand quality hand tools, building a number of close links and partnerships with suppliers, locally, nationally and internationally. The important project work with the University of Sheffield through its Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre with Boeing continues. It is a story which is far from over.
Admittedly it has been a difficult journey but we have successfully restructured and look forward to remaining a company producing quality hand tools well into the future, bearing the mark "Made in Sheffield". Our thanks go to our customers, our suppliers and, most importantly our staff, without whom there would be no Footprint.
1st April 2010