A THRIVING Lake District business has unveiled plans for a £10 million investment at its Kendal site, creating more than 100 jobs over the next five years.

Family-owned Lakeland is set to expand its distribution centre, on the town’s Westmorland Business Park, to increase the firm’s storage capacity by 50 per cent.

The company also hopes to increase the number of its stores nationally from 60 to 100, further the brand in the Middle East, and launch Lakeland to the German market.

The multi-million pound proposal comes in response to year-on-year growth for Lakeland, even through the recession.

Marketing director Tony Preedy said this was largely down to the rise in online shoppers: “We really are an e-commerce business now – more than three quarters of our orders come in from the internet, and a significant volume comes from iPhones,” he said.

“We had the busiest days in the company’s history before Christmas, and if we do not invest we cannot grow any further.”

Lakeland’s headquarters sit opposite Windermere railway station, but the Kendal centre is the ‘engine room of the company’, stocking all products which are picked both for mail order and high-street stores.

The site currently houses 200 permanent staff, with a further 100 expected when the new building becomes operational in 2014.

And there will also be a wider effect on the local economy, said distribution centre manager Claire Seddon.

“This is very good news for the community. We have suppliers and service companies that are local and there will be knock-on effects for them.

“For example, the transport company that delivers to all our stores has a depot in Milnthorpe.

“This also offers job security for employees that are here now, and in the current climate it is comforting to be in a business that is so forward thinking.”

The firm is also seeking tenders from northern companies to carry out construction work.

Managing director Sam Rayner said: “The company was founded in the district and it is where our heart is. We have an incredibly loyal and industrious workforce here in Cumbria.”

Lakeland prides itself on being like an extended family, with an ‘unusual’ number of staff choosing to keep their jobs for ten, 20 or even 30 years.

One of the distribution centre co-ordinators, John Bunker, has been with the firm for 22 years, progressing from one of two male ‘picker-packers’ in Windermere to the warehouse in Kendal.

He said: “I have grown up here and known a lot of employees a long time – many went to school together and Lakeland really is its own community.

“We all have the same ideals and ethics and that’s why people stay so long. We have bonded and work as a team, and look out for each other.”