The founder of Lakeland Leather has promised to do everything he can to try and save its Morpeth store after the company was put into administration earlier this month.
The specialist retailer of fine leather goods, including coats, jackets, handbags and luggage, was established in the 1960s and its success meant that stores were opened across the UK.
A total of 22 were in place, including Sanderson Arcade in Morpeth, but it has suffered financial difficulties in recent years and founder Richard Standring has spoken out about his devastation at being forced to put the family firm into administration.
Four stores have been closed and the other 18, including Morpeth, are under threat if the business cannot be saved. More than 200 jobs would be lost as a result.
Mr Standring said: “The pressure on the family has been immense in the past few years.
“The odds seem stacked against us.
“We just about survived the depths of the recession, but it left the business weak and in debt. Then last winter the weather was really mild so sales of our leather jackets and coats were down. It tipped us over the edge.
“Our staff are what is keeping me fighting to survive. I can’t thank them enough.
“Telling them they were being put into a redundancy consultation was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
“Yet, no one was angry or demoralised. The spirit was incredible.
“I explained that to help the business survive and come through the other side we need to maximise sales in the next few months. The reaction of our staff was immediate.”
Closing down sales have started and it is hoped that heavy discounting across all leather goods and summer fashion lines will help keep the stores trading until the business is rescued.
All gift cards and vouchers for Lakeland 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 firm’s website – www.lakelandleather.co.uk – will continue to trade as normal.