Welcome into the Hotter factory, where we make a pair of shoes every 20 seconds. We have been based in Lancashire since 1959 and we craft shoes in one of the most technologically advanced factories in the world.
We’d love to share the secrets that make our collection of women’s and men’s shoes so special, so here we show you how our designers work from first sketch to first step; our technical team explains how they craft our millimetre perfect lasts and moulds and our Factory Manager introduces the Hotter people who create our shoes with super light soles that will have you walking on air!
INSIDE OUR FACTORY
Hi, I’m Joan Stewart and I’ve been the Factory Manager at Hotter for 20 years. I actually started working here in 1980 as a sewing machinist, so I’ve seen some huge changes. I’d like to show you around our Lancashire factory, introduce you to a few of our Hotter people and explain how we create shoes with soles that are so light you’ll feel like you’re walking on air.
This is Adam Robinson he’s a moulding technician and his first task is to steam our uppers to make sure they are soft and pliable enough to be eased onto our precision engineered lasts. That’s a last, it’s the green ‘upside down’ foot!
Adam is one of 80 moulders in our factory who work across our four production lines; it’s their job to make sure that the every single upper and last are a perfect fit (that’s 1.8million pairs each year!).
Every member of our team double checks the quality of our shoes as they are made. Here Kevin Pledger one of our expert moulders is giving them a final check before they go through the heat setter – which removes all the moisture from the shoes, giving them the closest of fits (any gaps and the polyurethane (PU) could spill out and spoil the shoes.)
This is one of our roughing robots – it’s scoring a line around the shoe so there is a perfect bond between the upper and the sole. A barcode on each pair ensures each one is roughed to the exact millimetre – with all the shoe styles and sizes that’s over 500 different combinations!
The last and upper are put onto the moulding carousel by the ‘pick and place’ robot, here they are lowered into the sole mould… which looks a bit like a shoe sole shaped jelly mould!
PU is made of two chemicals; the machine mixes them together on a mixing screw running at 1,800 revolutions per minute and then injects them into the back of the mould; the PU expands to fill the space creating the soles of our shoes which are filled with millions of air bubbles. The carousel moves forward every 8 seconds…
… and the shoes are removed by the ‘pick and place’ robot at the end of the carousel.
What gets hot must cool down – so the chiller machine is next. It will take 24 hours for the PU to set properly, but this helps speed up the process.
Finally Robbie Gudamani a Production Operative at Hotter and his team ‘de-last’ the shoes; they place a shoe tree in each one to help it keep its shape. From here our team of finishing experts take over.
Depending on the style of shoe, the next step might be polishing, or burnishing the shoes to give a shine to the heel and toe.
This is Lesley Gostelow, she’s the person who lovingly puts that extra shine and polish in every pair.
We have 40 people on our ten finishing lines, it’s here where the final checks are made and each pair of shoes is carefully inspected. Lizi Mealor is checking that both heels are the same height and she removes any excess PU.
All nubuck shoes are carefully sponged so the nap looks just perfect as you open the box!
Did you know that every single pair of Hotter shoes, boots and slippers are placed in their shoe box the same way – left shoe first, side down, followed by right shoe, side up, so when you open the shoe box the first thing you see is the colour and detail of your shoe.
We’re proud to take great care of every single pair of shoes that we make for you. There’s 160 people working in the Hotter factory and whether they’ve worked here most of their lives like me, or have joined our team more recently, every one of us is dedicated to delivering you shoes you’ll fall in love with right out of the box!