A HISTORIC Barnsley menswear shop which bounced back from insolvency and pandemic closures to prolong its 82-year existence in the town has achieved record sales.
Staff at Frank Bird, in the town centre, now own the business after it fell into receivership just a few months before the pandemic struck.
The senior management trio - Neil Tennant, Mary Smith and Mark Rayner - who between them have more than 100 years’ service at the designer clothing shop, were determined to save the iconic Eldon Street business.
Neil said: “The business was sold by the Bird family in 2008 and rebranded.
“It then fell into liquidation in 2019 and we were made redundant.
“We couldn’t stand by and see it disappear as we knew the business was viable and with a few adjustments we knew it could be a success.
“It’s in a great location at the heart of both the Glass Works regeneration scheme and Eldon Street Heritage Action Zone.
“We felt the future was bright.”
The trio quickly set about repairing relationships with suppliers, negotiated with the official receiver for fixtures and fittings and reopened the business.
However, just six months later Covid-19 struck but the team developed an online retail site, which kept the business afloat during successive lockdowns.
Since re-opening the store, which stocks brands such as Boss, Belstaff, Paul Smith and Armani on April 12, business has boomed.
“The website is like another store to us now,” added Neil. “The directors make deliveries just like everyone else and it’s a great way to keep in touch with our customers.
“We’re seeing the kind of trade we see at Christmas and we’re confident it will continue.
“Since reopening in April, these have been record months.”
The Glass Works will open at the end of this year, bringing names such as Nando’s, Cineworld, Superbowl UK and Flannels to the town centre - joining JD Sports and Deichmann stores on Cheapside.
Neil believes the ongoing improvements to the town centre has paved the way for the firm’s success, crediting the £200m Glass Works regeneration as a key reason why the team saved the business.
“We saw a massive opportunity with the Glass Works and that’s one of the reasons we had so much confidence to take over the business,” said Neil.
“The potential is huge and we’re really positive and proud that we’re a part of it.
“The whole area is going to be really inviting and it’s brilliant to see the new public square taking shape.”
Coun Tim Cheetham, cabinet spokesperson for regeneration and culture at Barnsley Council, congratulated the team on rescuing the historic business and bouncing back from numerous challenges including the pandemic.
“It is a sign of the success of Barnsley town centre that a traditional family business like Frank Bird can be so successful.
“It is vital that there is a wide range of choice for all styles and types of people in the town centre, so it’s fantastic to see that Frank Bird is thriving and that businesses are adapting to the age of online retail.”