The family owners of Lakeland Leather have revealed plans to work with a retail restructuring specialist to help save its 18 remaining stores and 200 jobs.
Felldale Retail Ltd and its director, Martin Foster, has bought the stocks, assets and Lakeland Leather trading name from the Administrators and is now working to save each store from closure. Martin is working closely with the Standring family to create a rescue plan.
He says: “We face some short-term challenges as the Lakeland business was massively overstocked following poor sales caused by the recent mild winter weather. I’ve set the business a challenge to quickly sell £1 million worth of leather stocks: jackets, handbags and luggage. We need these sales to help prevent the specialist leather retailer from disappearing from our high street.”
Richard Standring, the founder of Lakeland Leather, says: “Felldale Retail Ltd has bought us time and given us a fighting chance to save Lakeland Leather. We’re confident in Martin’s expertise and our plans to help us fight tooth-and-nail to survive.
“Since news of our potential closure broke we’ve been overwhelmed by the amazing spirit of our staff and the lifesaving support of our customers. Every store has received kind messages from loyal customers and some even talk of starting a campaign to save Lakeland. It’s been a really bitter sweet experience but if this level of support continues we might have a future.”
Martin Foster added: “The Standring family’s passion to save the business, and the positive reaction we’ve had from staff and loyal customers, tells me this business is worth fighting for. It’s a unique business selling top quality leather goods; there’s no other retailer like it and I’m working very hard with Richard to save his 50-year-old family business.”
On Friday June 13 the Administrators, McTear Williams & Wood (MWW), closed four stores, in K-Village in Kendal, Spalding, Gloucester and Antrim in Northern Ireland, with the loss of 20 jobs. A further 18 stores and more than 200 jobs are under threat if the business cannot be saved.
Closing down sales are underway across the estate in order to liquidate stocks. It is hoped that heavy discounting on all leather goods and summer fashion lines will help keep the stores trading and allow the Lakeland Leather stores to be saved.
Richard opened the first Lakeland Leather in Ambleside, in the Lake District, in the 1960s and established it as the UK’s largest specialist retailer of fine leather goods including coats, jackets, handbags and luggage with 22 stores. The stores are an important local employer within tourist and market towns, and outlets in McArthurGlen Designer Outlet centres and similar centres across the UK.
All gift cards and vouchers for Lakelands’ stores are being honoured so that customers can use them to buy merchandise during the closing down sales but no cash exchange will be offered.
The on-line website www.lakelandleather.co.uk will continue to trade as normal.
Stores in closing down sales:
. Bowness on Windermere
. Cheshire Oaks