Great Britain

Bata Company founded a sister company as well as its own shops on the British Islands in 1923. In the second half of the 1920s, around a one million pairs of shoes were exported from Zlin to Britain. In 1933, a new shoe factory was opened in East Tilbury, London, and a large residential housing estate was built subsequently. Rubber, leather shoes and other complementary products were made in East Tilbury factory. Since 1935, a retail network grew rapidly and reached 220 stores in 1938. The business also expanded with the purchase of four other factories between 1940 and 1949 and the addition of textile production and tanning. Between 1955 and 1965, British Bata employed 5,000-7,000 workers and managed its branches in West India and West Africa. In the 1990s, the company´s activities declined.

  • In 1919 Tomáš Baťa sent František Muška to England to establish a base for sales in Britain
  • In 1921 (February-May), Bata´s office operated in London; Marie Gerbeck worked “as a clerk at a London branch office”
  • On June 11, 1923, the Bata subsidiary company Comfy Feet Ltd., London, was registered in the Commercial Register; In 1923 Comfy Feet Ltd. was established with a capital of 100 Ł
  • In 1923, Bata founded own stores in the country, but the sale ceased after a few years; few year later in 1926, Great Britain was missing in the list of company stores, the sale of Baťa shoes took place along the wholesale line
  • In 1924, Bata Shoe and Leather Comp. London had financial activities in England
  • In 1929, two Bata stores were operating in London
  • On October 21, 1930 the capital of the Comfy Feet Ltd. was increased from £ 100 to £ 20,000 (valid from November 26, 1930)
  • In 1930, company Comfy Feet Ltd. was transformed into The British Shoe Company Bata, Ltd. with a capital of £ 20,000
  • On January 24, 1931, the name of the company was changed to The Bata Shoe Company British Ltd. and £1000 of capital was paid until then
  • In November 1931, Tomáš Baťa and Alois Gabesam inspected the site for the construction of the Tilbury factory
  • In 1931, the company employed nine employees in its own stores
  • In 1932, Bata Shoe Company British Ltd had two stores in London.
  • On January 28th, 1932, Bata purchased 600 acres of land in East Tilbury for a future factory
  • At the end of 1932, 20 English boys went to Zlín to Bata´s Apprentice School
  • On January 23rd 1933, the construction works on site in Tilbury began; the first project was created in Zlín by architect Vladimír Karfík (around 1932) and another Zlín architect – (probably) Antonín Vítek worked on the revised plan in 1935
  • At the end of May 1933, the first factory building was completed and the machines from Zlín were brought in the following weeks; the government license was issued on July 27th for 10 Zlín instructors and the production began on 31st July 1933; in July there were already 200 employees
  • On June 27th 1933 there was a change of the registered office of the company from London to Tilbury- The Bata Shoe Company British Ltd, East Tilbury, Essex
  • During 1933-1934, two other buildings (leather footwear, chemical production) were built and added to the first building (rubber boots), and in 1936-1938 two more buildings were constructed (leather and rubber shoes)
  • During the 1934-1938 period, the number of Tilbury employees gradually increased:
January 1934 335
January 1935 721
January 1936 1,215
January 1937 1,461
January 1938 1,432
June 1938 1,583
  • Production also gradually increased during the 1934-1938 period:
1. 1. – 31. 12. 1934 335 000 pairs 1 041 000 pairs
1. 1. – 31. 12. 1937 896 000 pairs 1 931 000 pairs
  • Except of production of rubber and leather shoes, a farm (1932), boiler room (1933), a building department (1935), etc. were founded during those first years.
  • In the years 1933-1935, the first objects in the residential area for employees (16 houses and 2 dormitories) were built.
  • On June 22, 1936, the name of the enterprise changed to The British Bata Shoe Co. Ltd.
  • During the years 1936-1941, 79 residential houses were constructed
  • In June 1936, the retail network of the company consisted of 60 shops in the country; in June 1937 it was 116 stores; at the end of 1938 this number increased to 220 outlets in operation; this number dropped to 201 in 1939
  • In 1937, the sister company Atlas Export and Import Ltd., London was established.
  • During the 1934-1938 period, the area around the factory also expanded: the Social House (1935-1936), the cinema (1938), the sports grounds (1934), the swimming pool, the tennis courts (1936); the Bata Sports and Social Club – supported the sports and social activities of the inhabitants; the company allowed serving of the Catholic masses in its premises
  • In 1939, the Impeco Ltd., London was established.
  • In May 1939, the sister company Abex was transferred from the Netherlands to Cambridge to manage Bata companies in Western Europe and overseas
  • In 1939, British Bata Shoe Co. Ltd., Tilbury employed 1,645 people
  • In 1940, a factory in Northport Maryport, with a strong focus on rubber production was purchased. During the Second World War this factory adapted to war production but returned to production of footwear in 1946
  • In 1941, the second phase of the construction of residential dwellings for employees was completed.
  • In 1943, a school for elementary education of children of the local population in Tilbury was opened
  • Around 1944, the Bata Development Limited, London was established
  • In 1944, a tannery J. Hardy Smith & Sons Ltd., Leicester was acquired
  • In 1946 the British Bata ran 190 outlets in the country, and this number increased to 230 in the early 1950s
  • Between 1946 and 1947 additional 34 houses in the residential area were constructed
  • In 1947, a transport company Airlines Limited, Gattwick was established, which belonged to the Bata Business Group
  • In 1948, the British Bata had 3,200 employees in manufacturing and sales
  • A technical college was built in Tilbury in 1948
  • In 1949, factories Hampton Bros. Ltd., Dudley (footwear) and Derbyshire & Blackburn Ltd., Adlington near Chorley (textile production) were acquired.
  • In 1950, 2 900 employees were employed in Tilbury; Bata´s factories exported 3 540 033 pairs of footwear abroad, 27% of UK footwear exports
  • In 1952-1967, the following facilities were added to the factory premises: the pantry (1952-1954), the boiler room (1956), the plastics department (1958, 1966-1967), the fire station (1958), the warehouse (1960-1961) 1967)
  • During the 1953-1963 period, another  part of residential construction was built – 52 houses
  • In 1955, a bronze statue of Tomáš Baťa, which was made by the sculptor Joseph Hermon Cawthra, was placed in front of the factory; also a memorial dedicated to 81 workers of British Bata fallen in World War II was built nearby
  • Around 1957, British Bata employed about 5,000 people, of which 3,000 employees worked in the Tilbury Factory premises: footwear, machinery, stocking, shoe and shoe making, printer, farm; in 1959 the farm managed 109 hectares of farmland with cows, pigs and poultry, supplying food, corporate cuisine, restaurant and factory shop
  • At the beginning of the 1960s, 500 employees worked in Maryport, 75 in Leicester, 61 in Dudley and 215 in Adlington
  • In 1958, the following enterprises were under the management of the British Bata Shoe Co. Ltd., East Tilbury (Essex):
    • Factories
      • The British Bata Shoe Co. Ltd., East Tilbury (Essex) – manufacture of footwear
      • The British Bata Shoe Co. Ltd., Maryport (Cumberland) – manufacture of footwear
      • J. Hardy Smith & Sons Ltd., Leicester – Tanneries
      • Derbyshire & Blackburn Ltd., Adlington (Lancashire) – Textile manufacturing
      • Hampton Bros. Ltd., Dudley (Worcestershire) – Shoe production
    • Business companies
      • Bata Shoe Co. (Scotland) Ltd., Glasgow
      • Essex Commercial Enterprises Ltd., London
    • Overseas trading companies – affiliates
      • The British Bata Shoe Co. Ltd., Kingston, Jamaica, T. W. I.
      • The British Bata Shoe Co. Ltd., Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, T. W. I.
      • The British Bata Shoe Co. Ltd., Lagos, Nigeria, B.W.A.
      • The British Bata Shoe Co. Ltd., Freetown, Sierra Leone, B.W.A.
      • The British Bata Shoe Co. Ltd., Accra, Ghana
      • The British Bata Shoe Co. Ltd., Gibraltar
  • Around the year 1960, British Bata operated a network of stores in Western India: Jamaica, Trinidad, Barbados, Grenada, St. Lucia, Antigua, Saint Kitts and Saint Vincent, Dominica, Montserrat, British Guyana; there were 89 outlets in Western India in total; other stores were run by British Bata in West Africa: 25 in Nigeria, 14 in Ghana, 6 in Sierra Leone
  • 1962 – On the list of historically existing Bata companies, the following companies were registered for Great Britain:
    • Bata Development Limited (England)
    • The British Bata Shoe Company Limited (England)
    • Impeco Limited (England)
    • J. Hardy Smith & Sons Limited (England)
    • Atlas Exporters and Importers Limited (England)
    • Essex Commercial Enterprises Limited (England)
    • Hampton Bros. (Netherton) Limited (England)
    • Derbyshire and Blackburn Limited (England)
    • Abex Limited (England)
    • Machinery Finance (Overseas) Limited (England)
    • The Bata Housing Corporation Limited (England)
    • Bata Shoe Company (Scotland) Limited (Scotland)
  • In 1964 Bata organization owned a small manufacture in Cumnock, Scotland
  • In 1964, the company had 300 outlets in the country; it exported half of its annual production, and was the largest exporter of footwear in the UK
  • During the mid-1960s British Bata had 7,000 employees, of which 5,247 were in the UK (3,000 in East Tilbury, 1,247 in the retail network, 1,000 in branch offices) and 1,753 in subsidiary companies in Africa and the Caribbean
  • After 1970, the company sold its subsidiary plants; since 1980, the firm began selling residential homes in East Tilbury; the network of Bata´s stores was acquired by Sears
  • In the 70s and 80s some premises were demolished: the farm, the school, the swimming pool
  • In 1993, the site of the Bata village in Tilbury came under the status of heritage conservation
  • Bata Company published several journals in Great Britain: from 1934 Bata Record and Salesman Bata; around 1958 Good Salesman was published


  • Anthony Cekota, Entrepreneur Extraordinary, Rome 1968
  • Jaroslav Pagáč, Tomáš Baťa a 30 let jeho podnikatelské práce, Praha 1926
  • Joanna Smith, East Tilbury, Thurrock, Essex, Historic Area Appraisal, Research Department Report Series 21/2007, English Heritage, 67 s. ISSN 1749-8775
  • Vladimír Karfík, Vzpomínky, Luhačovice 2012, ISBN 978-80-85948-80-6
  • Inocenc Krutil, Nevšední osudy Baťova exportéra, Luhačovice 2014, 214 s. ISBN 978-80-85948-83-7
  • Martin Marek, Bouřlivá léta: Baťovské podnikatelské aktivity v širší střední Evropě za druhé světové války, In: Slovanský přehled – Slovanské historické studie, roč. 100, 2014, č. 3, 629-687
  • Anne Sudrow, Der Schuh in Nationalsozialismus, Göttingen 2010, ISBN 978-3-8353-0793-3
  • Antonín Cekota, The Stormy Years, New Jersey 1985
  • The British Bata Shoe Co. Ltd. 1933-1958, You will be very welcome at East Tilbury to see 25 years of progress, A cordial invitation from British Bata, [East Tilbury, British Bata Shoe Co. Ltd., 1958], [32 s.]
  • Ivan Brož, Chlapi od Baťů, Praha 2002, ISBN 80-86328-04-X
  • Jaroslav Pospíšil – Hana Pospíšilová, Rub a líc baťovských sporů, Zlín 2012, ISBN 978-80-7473-037-5
  • Moravský zemský archiv v Brně – Státní okresní archiv Zlín, Česko