University of Leicester honour for city business leader

Posted by ap507 at Jan 19, 2016 11:30 AM |
Former Chairman of Shoe Zone to receive honorary Doctor of Laws

Issued by the University of Leicester Press Office on 19 January 

DATE: Friday 22 January

TIME: 3pm ceremony

VENUE: De Montfort Hall, Leicester

Photograph of Michael Smith available to download at:

The University of Leicester is to confer the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws upon Michael Smith, founder and former Chairman of Shoe Zone shoe retailers.

He will be awarded his honorary degree by University Chancellor Lord Grocott at the University’s degree ceremony at De Montfort Hall before an international audience of graduating students and their families.

Mr Smith will be conferred with a Doctor of Laws degree at 3pm on Friday 22 January.

Mr Smith said: “Having lived and worked in Leicestershire all my life and never attended any university I am especially honoured and proud to receive this award.”

Lisa Davies, Development Manager from the University of Leicester said: “We are very proud to award this honorary degree to Mr Smith.  He and his family are very much a part of Leicester’s social and economic heritage”.

Michael Smith was founder and Chairman of Shoe Zone shoe retailers.  He was born locally and was educated at Uppingham School.  He qualified as a Chartered Accountant before working as Finance Director of Drury Holdings from1965 to 1972, and Francis Parker from 1972 to 1979.

His grandfather was a footwear manufacturer and owned shares in BensonShoe, a shoe store company.  In 1980, Michael Smith and his brother were able to buy out BensonShoe, which by then had 48 stores; they then went on to acquire other local shoe companies, such as the Oliver Group, Shoefayre and Stead and Simpson.

The Shoe Zone name was adopted in 2000, and Michael Smith served as the company’s chairman until 2014.  He also served as Non-executive Director of the Market Harborough Building Society and General Commissioner of Taxes (Leicester Division), including a period as Chairman.

ShoeZone currently owns over 500 stores in the UK and the Republic of Ireland, sells 20 million pairs of shoes annually and has 3,750 employees.  The Shoe Zone Trust was established under Michael Smith’s chairmanship in 2005, and has made charitable donations of over £1 million.


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