Family-run footwear retailer Meeks Shoes has re-opened its Stockport store after receiving support from Barclays through the Government-backed Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS). A plan is now in place to open the business’ 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% 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. Meeks Shoes is ensuring all staff wear the appropriate PPE, and that door staff, zoning and walkway systems mean social distancing will be safely managed.
Edward Meeks established Meeks Shoes in 1901 in Ashton-Under-Lyne and the business has remained in the family for four generations, with Edward’s great-grandson John now the owner and overseeing a total of five stores across Lancashire and Cheshire.
John Meeks, owner of Meeks Shoes, said: “We are a family business and have been serving our community for almost 120 years. Our CBIL allowed us to focus on the future, helping us with our rent payments, as well as pay suppliers and staff. 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 there 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 Stockport is the first to open doors post-lockdown, we’re looking forward to welcoming customers in four other high street locations over the next few weeks.
“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, Relationship Director, South Manchester, Barclays Business Banking, 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. John had to close his shops three months ago and subsequently spoke to us about the possibility of getting a CBIL.
“I’m pleased that we have been able to support the Edward Meeks business during this challenging situation and am certain that they will be stronger as a business once stores are re-opened and we all come out on the other side of this.”