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Freeman Hardy & Willis is steeped in heritage.

The company is part of the British footwear and retail
landscape and is a fond memory of many growing up.

The company was formed in Leicester in 1875 and named after
three of the company's original directors, the Russian shoemaker William Freeman, Arthur Hardy and Frederick Willis.


Famed for providing “shoes for all the family” early stores opened in Leamington Spa, Leeds and Lincoln. The shoes were produced in a state-of-the-art factory occupying the corner of Rutland and Humberstone Road in Leicester.


Growth was astonishingly rapid. By 1887 Freeman, Hardy &
Willis they boasted 130 outlets. They grew to 150 by 1890, 200 by 1894 and 300 by 1903, when the London chain Rabbits & Sons were acquired.


Later takeovers included Pocock Bros. and Hall & Co. These acquisitions helped Freeman, Hardy & Willis expand to 460 shops on the eve of war in 1914. In the early years, the firm was advertised as ‘The Boot Kings’, ‘The Boot People’ or ‘The People’s Boot Providers’, but by 1900 it was claiming to be ‘The largest boot and shoe dealers in the world’.

By the early 1990’s stores totalled 540 branches and there was a store in most towns in the United Kingdom.


Despite the closure of the final store in 1996 signs of Freeman Hardy & Willis’s historical footprint in the UK in the form of ‘FHW’ entrance lobby mosaics, painted walls and the wall mosaic in Hitchen.

Freeman, Hardy & Willis now live in a digital world, continuing to deliver ‘footwear for all the family’. Boasting world-famous brands and offering excellent service, Freeman Hardy & Willis looks forward to providing footwear to future generations.