Shoe retailer finds new footing online

A family-run footwear retailer has re-opened its Stockport store after receiving support from Barclays through the Government-backed Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.

A plan is now in place to open Meeks Shoes’ four other stores over the next fortnight, ensuring the safety of staff and customers is prioritised.

The loan, worth £150,000, has been used to cover rent, staff salaries and pay suppliers, as well as helping to support updates to the company’s website following a 200 per cent increase in online sales during Lockdown.

The Stockport store gives customers an outlet to try on summer footwear before buying, as well as provide parents with the opportunity to browse the back-to-school range. All staff wear the appropriate PPE and door staff, zoning and walkway systems mean social distancing will be safely managed.

Edward Meeks established the business in 1901 in Ashton-Under-Lyne and the business has remained in the family for four generations, with Edward’s great-grandson John now  overseeing a total of five stores across Lancashire and Cheshire.

He said: “Even before the pandemic the retail industry had been grappling with rising rents and increased online competition. So, we’ve also used the Lockdown period as an opportunity to update our website and our online takings have trebled during this time, which has helped while our physical stores have been closed.

“We are now fully stocked and have all of the latest ranges on display in the summer footwear and back-to-school sections of the shop. While we expect the next 12 months to be tough, we’ve adjusted to all the social distancing measures necessary so stores remain safe for customers.”

John Darkes, Barclays Business Banking’s South Manchester Relationship Director, said: “Family businesses like Edward Meeks are institutions and it is essential that we support them in whatever way we can during these uncertain times.”