A CLARKS shoe shop in Wilmslow has been converted to operate as a franchise store after Tonks Shoes secured six-figure funding from NatWest.

The five current employees will continue to work at the shoe shop on Grove Street.

The business has also bought a second franchise store of the iconic shoe brand in Sheffield, with a further 12 staff, and bringing the company’s total of Clarks franchises to seven.

Established in 1978, Tonks Shoes Ltd was launched by Jeffrey and Elizabeth Tonks as an independent shoe retailer selling men’s, women’s and children’s shoes.

Michael Tonks, their son, took over the business in 1982, opening franchises under the Tonks Shoes’ brand, until the firm became an official Clarks franchisee in 2000, changing its existing stores to come under the Clarks brand.

Now in its third generation, Matthew Tonks is managing director of the Leigh-headquartered business, overseeing its seven franchises across the north west and Yorkshire.

The two recent acquisitions bring the company’s total number of staff to close to 100 and will contribute to an annual turnover of more than £4 million.

Matthew Tonks said: “By adding two more stores to our portfolio we have supported Clarks’ high street presence and kept experienced staff in the process.

“The backing from NatWest has enabled us to take ownership of this valued Wilmslow store, continuing to bring the products from this established and iconic brand to the town.”

Ruth Kirby, relationship manager at NatWest, said: “Tonks Shoes Ltd are passionate about supporting high street stores in towns across the North of England.

“We look forward to supporting the business in the future as Matthew and the team look to expand the firm’s portfolio further.”