History

Lakeland Leather - 60 Years the Leather Expert

At Lakeland we are proud of our history and heritage.

From the Fifties right through to the dawn of the digital age and beyond, Lakeland has been there, delivering consistently high quality leather fashion. It's not just our past we are proud of - we are excited about our current direction of delivering not only our sumptuous leathers for all seasons, but also the very latest in men's and women's fashion.

Find out more about the history of Lakeland and what has made us the company we are today. On a mobile device, this time line is best viewed in landscape orientation.

  • Lakeland Leather - Our Journey

    Click the arrows or use the arrow keys on your keyboard to take a journey through time...

  • 1955 - Where it All Began

    Jack Standring bought his first store in Ambleside selling fancy goods and artists materials. He called it "Art Gallery Ambleside". Jack's love of the Lakes flourished as did business and his family.

  • 1964 - Retail Education

    Jack's older son Michael joined Bainbridge's (now John Lewis Partnership) in Newcastle.

    His younger son Richard helped out in the shop between school work. When old enough Richard was sent to Boarding School in Sedbergh.

  • 1964 - Sheepskin Arrives

    Michael, having learned his retail trade and met his wife, returns from Newcastle to the beauty of the Lake District. Jack encourages his sons to help develop the business and they introduce sheepskin rugs, mitts, gloves, slippers and hats to the range. They're an instant success with customers loving the styles and quality.

  • 1967 - Sheepskin Coats are the Height of Fashion

    Michael and Richard on one of their many buying trips find a top-class producer of sheepskin coats in Somerset. The supplier is Deybridge Limited which sadly, like so many UK producers, closed many years ago.

  • 1968 - Richard Returns from University and Retail College

    Richard studied Chemistry at York University and after a spell learning about Retailing he joined the familiy business full-time. Leather is a technical product and Richard's knowledge and love of manufacturing processes soon helped the business source ever better quality leather goods. However, on his first solo buying trip to the Somerset sheepskin factories, excited by products and worried by 12% price inflation, he spends £1000 on stock instead of his £500 budget. Jack and Michael weren't best pleased as the shop sinks under the weight of sheepskin slippers, hats and gloves. But this boyish error pays-off as customers clamor for the beautiful products Richard has found.

  • 1970 - First "Sheepskin Centre" Opened

    Business is thriving and the family boldly decide to invest in a second shop in Keswick. The Lakeland Sheepskin Centre is borne with Richard at the helm! Two guiding principles formed the early business that exist today: firstly, always listen to customers and give them what they want. Secondly, take inspiration from the beauty of the Lake District and never forget how lucky we are to live and work here. First Christmas Catalogue produced including Suede skirts, gilets, tabards and hot pants from "Preston Leather"

  • 1972 - A Change of Name

    The success of Sheepskin products continues so Ambleside store changes its name to "Lakeland Sheepskin Centre" to match its growing product range.

  • 1974 - Wedding Bells

    Lakeland starts to develop its specialism in Sheepskin coats and jackets with customers travelling from far and wide to shop at Lakeland.

    A full colour catalogue is produced for the first time. Richard marries Beverly (Love, yes. But good business sense as she has a real eye for fashion!)

  • 1975

    Lakeland Chester Opens

    Richard and Michael persuade the family to open a new shop in Chester on the ‘Rows’.

    A new range of leather is added to the mix with upmarket brands like Bege D’or who used Italian leathers and a high level of design

  • 1976 - ‘Only Pure Natural Materials'

    Keswick store booms. It famously had a ‘Coat Room’ full of sheepskin coats and customers who expressed an interest were taken out of the back of the store and across the yard to this special room (the smell in there was wonderful, by the way).

    Knitwear products introduced: Herdwick and Swaledale sweater, suede patches, arrans, fair-isles plus the sale of wool on cones, some jewellery, novelty items like slate clocks also introduced to cater for Lake District tourists.

  • 1978 - Lakeland Bowness-on-Winderemere opens

    A new small Lakeland shop opened in Bowness and sales rocketed, so much so that just a year later a bigger shop was needed.

  • 1979

    Handbags Added

    A move to new bigger shop in Bowness with more retail space gives opportunity for a wider product range.

    Richard Standring whilst away on a buying trip to South America meets two young ‘hippies’ who sell him some thonged bags. The circular style proved to be a retail winner, the ‘hippies’ later formed the brand Hidesign which in turn was a predecessor to Tula and then Radley.

  • 1980 - Lakeland on the high-street opposite M&S

    Lakeland open a prime-site high street shop in Blackpool. It's a first step in to a prime site location being opposite M&S. Sales are good and new customers flock to the store.

  • 1981 - Award Winners!

    Opened store in Southport, Lord Street, one of the swankiest shopping runs in the North West.

    A redevelopment of the Bowness store wins Lake District Planning Board Design Award for its store frontage and conservatory style windows.

  • 1982 - Expansion

    Stores are opened in Brighton and Bath. New ranges are introduced under Beverly's influence as Lakeland starts selling blouses and other women’s wear items with a ‘country’ appeal.

    As the business grew a new warehouse was opened in Ambleside.

    With the business growing a new brand style is introduced.

  • 1983 - Opened Stores in Kendal & Winchester

  • 1984 - Opened Stores in Chichester, Altrincham & Guildford

  • 1985 - York store opens on historic Stonegate

    Richard's university town was always going to be a key location for Lakeland and after many year's of searching the ideal shop is found on Stonegate, opposite Betty's tea rooms.

  • 1987 - A Busy Year

    A store is opened in Harrogate on James Street which later is sold for a £300,000 premium. The Winchester store is closed.

    A new brand style is introduced.

    Strategic changes saw the business embrace fashion, looking to Paris, Florence and New York for inspiration and sourcing products from a much wider supply base.

    Michael and Anita Standring leave the business to develop an outdoor retail store called ‘George Fisher’.

  • 1989 - Growth of Lakeland

    Opened stores in Carlisle, Glasgow and Shrewsbury.

    The stores in Brighton, Bath and Blackpool are closed due to declining trade.

  • 1990 - New Branding

    Opened store in Tunbridge Wells

    A refresh of the branding takes place

  • 1992 - Recession causes a radical restructure of lakeland

    Recession hits and causes a radical restructure with many stores forced to close. A new holding company is created: Lakeland Properties Ltd with 11 stores retained: Ambleside, Keswick, Chester, Bowness, Southport, Kendal, Manchester, Altrincham, Guildford, York & Carlisle. Lakeland works hard to develop very strong relationships with suppliers and customers, offering exclusive high quality, well designed products where value for money, not low prices were key. An extraordinary customer loyalty continues to build with the company held in high esteem.

  • 1997 - Investors in People Award

    Lakeland becomes the first company in Cumbria to gain the prestigious Investors in People award.

  • 1998 - Opened store in Bridgend & Trafford Centre, Manchester

    Stores are opened in Bridgend & the Manchester Trafford Centre

  • 1999 - Opened Store in Swindon

  • 2000 - New Brand Style Introduced

    Moving with the times, Lakeland refreshes its brand style

  • 2002 - Factory Outlet Stores Open

    To help clear end of season stocks, Lakeland opens factory outlet stores in Cheshire Oaks and in Street, Somerset.

  • 2005 - Flood Disaster!

    Disaster strikes as the Ambleside warehouse and distribution centre are hit by 'the worst floods since 1818' with many areas experiencing over 150mm of rain. Our staff rise to the challenge of wading through flood waters to save stock and keep customer orders flowing.

  • 2008 - Store opens in the market town of Northallerton

  • 2009 - A Year of Two Halves (and another flood)

    Outlet stores open at Gloucester Quays and Gretna and a high street store in Morpeth

    Disaster strikes again! And just before Christmas. Very heavy rains cause more floods creating widespread devastation in Cumbria. Cockermouth was the worst hit and our Ambleside warehouse and distribution centre are again badly affected. But, once again our teams are on hand to help sort the mess out!

  • 2010 - Two Outlet stores open in Castleford & Spalding

  • 2012 - Retail recession

    Banking crisis starts to filter through to retail spending and Lakeland becomes loss making forcing several stores to close.

  • 2013 - Ambleside store gets a makeover

    Our home-town store in Ambleside gets a mini-makeover. The Lakeland icon is born.

  • 2014 - The End?

    On Friday 13th June 2014 Lakeland falls in to administration but Felldale Retail Limited steps in with restructure plans to help the family rebuild the business and create a new exciting future. Five deeply loss making stores are closed.

  • 2015 - Family Values

    From Jack's first store in 1955 the Standring family have been central to Lakeland; and that remains true today. Like any family business we've had our ups and downs. But for over half a century we've remained true to our founding principles of providing the best quality goods with the best service possible.

Thank you

Your item has been added to your shopping bag, would you like to:

Pay Now or Continue Shopping