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Real Living Wage move for Begg Shoes as it marks 155 years in business

Donald Begg.

Independent shoe shop chain Begg Shoes is marking its 155th year in business with a move to paying the real Living Wage for its staff.

The Inverness-based company, which has nine stores stretching from Perth to Lerwick, has been accredited by the Living Wage Foundation to provide the rate, which reflects the cost of living.

Originally established in 1866 by Alexander Begg, the firm started life as a modest one-man shoemaker in the Aberdeenshire village of New Pitsligo.

Current managing director, Donald Begg, is the sixth generation of the family to be involved in the business.

He said: “Our move to the real Living Wage is a fitting way for us to mark our 155 years in business.

“We are proud to become one of the few bricks and mortar retailers to offer this higher rate of pay.

“The specialist footwear knowledge of our in-store professionals is a big part of our success and longevity. We have long felt that our teams are the best in the business.”

Mr Begg continued: “We think our predecessors would be pleased with our vision and investment in people who, since the very start of the business, have helped make our progress possible.”

Hayley Dawson, manager of Begg’s Inverurie shop, added: “I’m delighted that Begg Shoes have become Living Wage accredited.

“We have an excellent team of loyal, dedicated and knowledgeable people and I’m proud to work for a family-run business that values everyone’s efforts and rewards them for it.”

Many retail workers ‘in the grip of low pay’

The real living wage hourly rate, which is significantly higher than the government’s National Living Wage, rose by 40p to £9.90 in Scotland this week.

Living Wage Scotland manager, Lynn Anderson, said: “We’re delighted that Begg Shoes have become an accredited Living Wage employer.

“The Living Wage movement has grown significantly, but too many workers employed in the retail sector remain in the grip of low pay, and are struggling to cover their everyday needs.

“There are more than 2,400 accredited Living Wage employers in Scotland, yet less than 5% of these employers operate in retail.

“The Living Wage commitment of Begg Shoes is an important demonstration of leadership in tackling low pay in the retail sector.”

In 2013, Beggs Shoes acquired five former DE Shoes shops, saving 40 jobs.

More recently, the company played a key role in lobbying for government grants during the pandemic to ensure all of its stores were retained, while also helping to safeguard employment.

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