Rescue plan under way to save Lakeland Leather - shop closures and job losses may now be averted

The Westmorland Gazette: Lakeland Leather owner Richard Standring and Martin Foster of Felldale Retail Ltd Lakeland Leather owner Richard Standring and Martin Foster of Felldale Retail Ltd

A RESCUE plan has been launched to stop a number of shops in South Lakeland from being closed.

Lakeland Leather, which has branches in Kendal, Ambleside and Bowness on Windermere, could now be saved.

However, its second Kendal outlet in K Village will remain shut.

The latter was one of four stores and a total of 20 jobs lost when shut by administrators on June 13.

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A further 18 stores and more than 200 jobs remain under threat, including the branch in Keswick.

But there is a behind-the-scenes battle to keep them open.

The family owners say they are now working with a retail restructuring specialist having linked up with the Ambleside-registered Felldale Retail Ltd.

It has has moved to buy up the stocks, assets and Lakeland Leather trading name from the administrators and is working on saving each store.

Felldale Retail Ltd and its Martin Foster are working closely with the Standring family, which set up Lakeland Leather 50 years ago in Ambleside.

Richard Standring, the founder of Lakeland Leather, explained: "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.

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"Since news of our potential closure broke we've been overwhelmed by the amazing spirit of our staff and the 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 bittersweet experience but if this level of support continues we might have a future."

Mr Foster, of Felldale Retail Ltd, 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 June 13, administrators, McTear Williams & Wood shut four stores.

The plan is to offer big discounts on all leather goods and summer fashion lines, to generate enough footfall this summer to keep the stores trading and allow them to be saved.

Mr Standring first opened Lakeland Leather in Ambleside 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 at its peaks.

The brand's on-line website will continue to trade as normal.

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