Two businesses with a combined history of almost 300 years have completed a takeover deal.
Cottons of Oundle – a family shoe firm dating back to 1871 – has been bought by Lincolnshire-based North Shoes, whose own roots go back to 1876.
Cottons, based at 7 Market Place, Oundle, will trade as North Shoes from the end of July and all six full and part-time members of staff have been taken on as part of the deal.
Managing director Anne Cotton, the fourth generation at the head of R C Cotton and Sons Ltd, said: “I will be sad to see the business go out of the family but my father, Stuart, and I recognise this is the right time for it to happen.
“We are a stand-alone independent shoe shop in a small but vibrant market town with a thriving business, amazing staff and hugely loyal customers.
“James North approached me about buying the business — we wouldn’t have sold to just anybody.
“It feels right to hand it over to someone like James, whom I have known for some time. I know he shares my ideas about business.
“We could have kept running the shop and then one day closed, but this way the town is going to be assured of a good quality independent shoe shop for many years to come.
“It’s amazing that two such old-established independent shoe shops should be coming together in this way.”
James North, the fifth generation at the helm of Bourne-based North Shoes, said: “I am absolutely delighted to have acquired Cottons of Oundle.
“We have looked at it for some time. It is the right fit for us – a lovely, independent, long-established shoe business in a lovely market town.
“We want to carry on offering what they have been offering as a quality family concern, including the links with Oundle School.
“We will continue to sell all of the brands they have offered and maintain the same high quality level of service, bringing the Society of Shoe Fitters expertise to the business.”
The deal increases the North Shoes stable to five shops, with stores also in Peterborough, Stamford, Bourne and Cambridge, and James revealed: “We’re always looking for more shops – so, if the right fit comes along...”