Lilley & Skinner was a British mid-market shoe brand, manufacturer, retailer and wholesale distributor of their own and others' boots and shoes and associated chain of high street shoe shops. It was also active in wholesale leather distribution.

Lilley & Skinner Ltd
Founded1835; 189 years ago (1835) in Southwark, London, England
FounderThomas Lilley
Defunct1962 (1962)
FateBought by British Shoe Corporation, subsidiary of Sears plc



Lilley & Skinner's origins were in a shoe shop opened in London's Southwark in 1835 by London boot and shoe manufacturer, Thomas Lilley (1814-1899). By the mid 19th century Lilley had opened factories in Wellingborough, Irthlingborough, Higham Ferrers and Rushden in Northamptonshire.[1] In April 1871 he reported 233 employees to the census.[2] More shops were opened in the 1870s and the headquarters moved to Paddington Green.[3]

In 1881 Thomas Lilley (1845-1916), only surviving son of the founder, went into partnership with his sister's husband of ten years, W. Banks Skinner (1847-1914), and they named their business Lilley & Skinner. To own it they incorporated Lilley & Skinner Limited in 1894[3] and sold listed preference shares in 1896. By then there were agencies in Melbourne Australia and Port Elizabeth South Africa.[4]

By the end of the First World War, it was one of the UK's best known shoe brands.[5] Lilley & Skinner opened what was believed to be the world's largest shoe shop in Oxford Street in 1921.[3]

Control of the business was opened up just before he died by the grandson of the founder, chairman Thomas Lilley (1872-1951) with a public listing of ordinary shares to establish a value for the 80 per cent[6] estate duty. His elder son Thomas Lilley (1902-1959) and his brother James (1909-1992) were at that time directors along with William Banks Skinner's grandson, John Hershell Skinner (1909-1982) son of John Hershell Skinner (1884-1947). All but one long-serving member of the directorate, Stanley Thorp, were family members and all were active in the management of the business.[3][2]

It became part of the British Shoe Corporation, a subsidiary of Sears plc, in 1962,[7] but that was broken up in the 1990s, and Lilley & Skinner became part of Stead & Simpson.[8]

Lilley & Skinner shoes are in the V&A collection.[9]

See also



  1. ^ Death of Mr Thomas Lilley. Northampton Mercury - Friday 28 April 1899
  2. ^ a b Census FindMyPast accessed 22 May 2016
  3. ^ a b c d Lilley & Skinner (Holdings) Limited, Offer for Sale. The Times, Tuesday, Mar 06, 1951; pg. 8; Issue 51942.
  4. ^ 'Lilley & Skinner, The Times, Tuesday, Jun 02, 1896; pg. 14; Issue 34906
  5. ^ David Newton (1 May 2013). Trademarked: A History of Well-Known Brands, from Airtex to Wright's Coal Tar. History Press. p. 73. ISBN 978-0-7524-9612-2. Retrieved 27 March 2016.
  6. ^ Tax and Corporate Governance edited by Wolfgang Schön
  7. ^ £27M. Clore Offer For Shoe Shops. The Times, Friday, Jan 05, 1962; pg. 10; Issue 55281
  8. ^ Bank of Scotland in £42m deal to acquire shoe seller. The Times, Thursday, October 13, 2005; pg. 55; Issue 68517
  9. ^ "Pair of shoes". Retrieved 28 March 2016.