The story of New Zealand’s iconic footwear brand began in 1934 when the Daisley bootmaking family created boots for the booming industrial and farming markets.
Having learnt their trade at another shoe factory in Auckland, the Daisley brothers set up their own business and factory on Khyber Pass.
They met the need for strong, safe boots – introducing steel toe caps and flexible moulded soles.
The quality of the boots was recognised when the Daisleys won the contract to supply the New Zealand armed forces in World War 2.
After the war, the Government opened up tracts of land for retired servicemen via a ballot system. Many New Zealanders packed their bags and went to stay on their land – mostly bushland – to clear it for farming or other purposes.
It was a busy time – towns were being built. Everyone pitched in to help. Timber mills were established to cater for the cleared trees. As the new settlers worked, the Daisley family business grew and, along with it, the popularity of the John Bull brand.
John Bull was initially very strong in the north island but its acclaim started to extend south and, by the 1950s, they were an iconic brand.
The New Zealand Government was again embarking on major civil projects such as power station development, water reticulation, boring tunnels through mountainsides and the like. All of these projects needed people to work, and John Bull was there supplying the boots.
Along with the traditional stitched and screwed boot construction, the Daisleys installed a PVC soling machine and were looking at other rubber vulcanising machines.
The family business continued to flourish as it was handed down through the generations, eventuating with a big factory in Cartwright Road, Glen Eden. This success continued right up until the early 1980s, when John Bull was sold to Golding Industrial Wear Ltd a part of OPSM Protector. The already high reputation of John Bull was enhanced through a major equipment and modernisation program based on quality assurance work practices.
The military line continued, with John Bull winning a contract from the military for the supply of combat boots. This enabled the purchase of a dual density sole moulding machine, which was cutting-edge technology in its day. The new boots were soft, quiet, and pliable – a huge improvement over their rattly, heavy predecessors and a “big deal” in the evolution of the boot.
The trans-Tasman John Bull Footwear Group was launched in 1997 and the footwear brand was acquired by Blundstone Australia Pty Ltd three years later.
Blundstone brought further new technology to the brand, and developed a very successful new range.
Not only did John Bull keep up with technology and the global cut-and-thrust of the footwear world, but it thrived.
Today, we’re New Zealand’s leading and most respected boot brand in by a country mile, in a place where conditions demand the very best in protective footwear.
Decades of innovative design and production have meant Kiwi farmers, builders, engineers – everyone - have worn footwear that is comfortable, tough and safe. John Bull’s ongoing research and development sees continual improvement in comfort, protection, performance and aesthetics while retaining the traditional robust work boot features that the brand is renowned for. While the styling has evolved over the years, the John Bull “DNA” has endured.
And we’ll continue to keep that Kiwi spirit alive. 80 years on, you can rely on John Bull for hard wearing footwear that will see you through any challenge.