In 1866 in the north east of Scotland, in the rural village of New Pitsligo, Alexander Begg (photographed above) started his own shoemaking business at the age of 20. Little did he know of the legacy he would be leaving for a future six generations of the Begg family…
The second generation was the first Andrew Begg to trade under his own name. Andrew continued the shoemaking business his father Alexander had started in 1866 and enhanced the reputation in the North East of Scotland of the Begg family as first class shoemakers with customers as far afield as London & Johannesburg.
Andrew Begg II, started in New Pitsligo, Aberdeenshire then branched out to New Deer thence to Fraserburgh with a much larger standalone retail shop and 5 shoemakers in the workshop behind. This began a gradual transition away from shoemaking into repair and sourcing of product from larger UK shoe manufacturers. Over time, the retail business thrived. Andrew opened the shop in Elgin with his son, the 4th generation. Buckie, Keith, Forres followed and then on to the city of Aberdeen when the 5th generation started their involvement.
Once a World Cup Alpine Ski Racer, Garek Begg joined his father Andrew in the business after a succession of high speed racing crashes lead to some nasty injuries. The business’s geographic reach grew in 1983 when Garek opened the Inverness store followed a few years later, with the help of his wife Fiona, by the Perth shop. A self-taught computer programmer, Garek created a bespoke EPOS system which is still operational to this day. It allows the business to closely review what customers preferences are and is highly influential in style selection in each store for the following seasons. Each shop is different, and is highly tailored to what we believe our customers will want to buy! The EPOS system also connects now with the internet to update our increasingly successful website – Beggshoes.com.
In 1996 the business changed its trading name to Begg Shoes & Bags to reflect an expanded offering of shoes combined with handbags and leathergoods. The core values remain: knowledgeable service, best fitting properties, great quality and style; without compromising on comfort. In this modern world of fast fashion, Begg shoes remain faithful to these values; refraining from the cheapest products, but proudly offering real value for money in both product and service.
In April 2013 the business acquired five new stores from DE Shoes in Lerwick, Elgin, Kirkwall, Inverurie and Peterhead. This safeguarded over forty jobs and ensures Begg Shoes values are extended in the north and northeast of Scotland. The business now has eight stores – reaching as far south as Perth and as far north as Lerwick. The acquisition of the 5 stores coincided with the sixth generation of the family joining the business. Donald Begg, formerly a professional footballer with Inverness Caledonian Thistle and a Chartered Accountant, has provided additional impetus to the development of the business and has continued its evolution with the development of the Begg Shoes website.
Beggshoes.com launched in June 2014 and has proved a massive hit with both local customers and converts from all over the UK & increasingly overseas. Customers who are not able to make it to one of the Begg Shoes stores, are using the site in ever increasing numbers, which gives the business new reach. The website has allowed the business to internationalize itself – selling shoes & offering expertise to customers all over the world. This is just another structural change that the Begg family will take in their stride and keep the business going forward for the next generations.
Begg Shoes have always been synonymous with quality products and fitting service and to mark the 150th Anniversary of the business in 2016, ten members of Begg Shoes’ team have embarked on obtaining a specialist shoe fitting qualification with the Society of Shoefitters. This qualification will formalize the knowledge all Begg Shoes staff obtain in their work and training with the family, as genuine experts in footwear.