THE founder and owner of clothing and footwear retailer Winfields has died, aged 70.

Dale Winfield, whose empire started when he began selling odd-sized slippers in the 1960s, had been battling bowel cancer for two years.

His wife June, 59, who had known her husband since she was just 14 and worked for him as a ‘Saturday girl’, said: “Dale loved a deal. He loved retail and he loved the customers.”


Winfields, which has been based at Hazel Mill in Acre, near Haslingden, for 28 years, now employs more than 200 staff.

As well as footwear, the business under Mr Winfield’s guidance has expanded to sell clothing and homeware as well as specialising in outdoor clothing and equipment.

A special service of remembrance will be held at the store prior to his funeral on Thursday, March 26.

Mrs Winfield said: “He wanted people to have value for money but not to pinch on quality.

“He instilled that with all his staff and that came right from being a market trader.

“His word was his bond. He was very old-fashioned in that respect.

“He would never pull out of a deal. You did not need a contract with Dale.

“There are not many people like that around these days.”

Mrs Winfield said that behind closed doors her husband was a real family man.

She said: “He loved his children and he loved his grandchildren.

“Everybody that knew him said even though he did what he did and he was who he was, he was just an ordinary man.

“He also loved hunting and fishing and he enjoyed cooking. I sent him on a Rick Stein cookery course for his 60th.

“Dale had a real sense of humour and was always playing practical jokes.

“He helped his staff out in all sorts of things and was an excellent counsellor.

“He believed in positivity and that is how he thought of the cancer. He didn’t let it bother him and he just got on with it.”

Mr Winfield was born in Townsend Fold, Rawtenstall, and went to Lea Bank High School.

Mrs Winfield said: “One of his teachers told him, ‘you will never amount to anything Winfield’, while he was at Lea Bank.”

After leaving school he went down the mines around Bacup and later became a welder and then a tree-feller, which is when he made the step into footwear.

He was offered a batch of odd slippers as a swap for an old crane on the back of his van and he accepted, planning to sell the slippers for people to use as fire fuel.

Mrs Winfield said: “He was going round selling them then an old woman said they were fine to wear as slippers, and everything went from there.”

With the money he made from selling the slippers, Mr Winfield bought the old Co-op building in Edenfield in the late-1960s, restoring old shoes and selling them at market.

He then bought Holmes Mill in Rawtenstall, initially using it to repair and sell shoes wholesale and later going into retail.

Mrs Winfield said: “He rigged a rack up in one of the rooms and the retail side started from there. We put a little till in and everything.

“At one point he decided he wanted a carpet for the office so he went to an auction and we ended up selling that as well.

“We sold it by the pound at 35p for rubber backed and 45p for Axminster!”

During this time, Mr Winfield opened shops in Blackburn, Middleton, Hull and Barrow.

In 1976, Mr Winfield took over Hazel Mill where the popular store is still based today.

Mr Winfield also leaves children Claire, Suzanne, Jodie, Janine and Joseph and grandchildren Poppy, Max, Troy and Reece.

He also had a brother, John, and sister-in-law Dawn, and had previously been married to Joan.

A funeral service will be held in the store on Thursday, March 26, at 11am, followed by a private family service.