THE new owners of Lakeland Leather say it is not out the woods yet despite widespread media reports that 18 stores and 200 jobs have been 'saved'.
Lakeland Leather, with stores locally in Ambleside, Keswick, Bowness and Kendal, went into administration in June.
Ambleside-based Felldale Retail Ltd and its director, Martin Foster, has bought the stocks, assets and Lakeland Leather trading name from the administrators.
MORE TOP STORIES:
- UPDATE: Pedestrian in severe condition after being crushed between wall and car in Ambleside
- Former Lib Dem peer pledges support for Morecambe and Lunesdale's Labour candidate
- Cumbrian expedition leader describes terror as Nepal earthquake hit
- Have your say at Cumbrian Artist of the Year exhibition at Rheged
And Mr Foster is now working with the Standring family, who established the specialist leather retailer in Ambleside in the 1960s.
The administrators, McTear Williams & Wood (MWW), says the deal was in the 'best interests of the company and its creditors', as marketing the business and assets would have taken at least a month and led to more store closures and job losses.
But Felldale say that while the deal has helped to preserve jobs and keep stores open for the time being, it is still 'far from safe'.
Martin Foster, of Felldale Retail Ltd and its director, said: "We still have a long way to go before we know whether we can save the remaining stores and jobs. Staff are still under redundancy notice and no stores have been saved at this time.
"We remain massively overstocked and we've got to sell £1m worth of leather stocks - jackets, handbags and luggage - quickly. So the closing down sales continues while we fight on to save Lakeland Leather."
Richard Standring, the founder of Lakeland Leather, says: "I wish it was better news but Felldale Retail Ltd has simply bought us some time.
"While we're confident in Martin's expertise and our plans, we absolutely still need the staff to carry on doing an amazing job in difficult circumstances and for customers to support their local store if we're to save the business."
On Friday June 13, 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, says Felldale.
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.
Mr Standring opened the first Lakeland Leather in Ambleside in the 1960s.
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.