ONE of Nelson’s most long-serving and respected shops is about to close - but its other shops and stores will stay open.
Holt’s Shoes in Scotland Road has been in the town for more than 60 years, but unlike other shops in the family group, it has not been attracting enough customers and has been put up for sale.
It was started by war veteran Mr Alec Holt, who served with the Army in Burma during the Second World War in one of the toughest ever combats.
In 1946, he set up his business by making slippers out of surplus Army blankets and tyres, which he initially sold on markets. He then established a shop in Railway Street, Nelson, and it was there for more than 10 years before it moved to Scotland Road.
Mr Holt opened other shops and set up his own shoe manufacturing plant in Italy.
He was a well-known and respected figure in Nelson. In the mid-70s, he called for action in Nelson as he felt business was in danger. At the time, he said: “The time has come when something drastic needs to be done to Nelson Centre. It will be done but, in true Nelson style, it will be done too late!”
Mr Holt was involved in business for the rest of his life, until he died aged 82 in 2003.
Now his son Ashley runs the business. It operates shops in Whalley and Lytham. He said: “Whalley is fabulous and Lytham is a fantastic place.”
The firm also operates at two Boundary Mill Stores - Colne and Grantham - and another store near Stockport. Mr Holt said: “Nelson may be closing, but the company certainly isn’t! We are still there in all our other places, and Nelson customers can come to Whalley, Lytham or Boundary Mill once we close here.”
Holt’s also import shoes from abroad and sell them to other traders.
Mr Holt added: “We are not sure when the Nelson shop closes. We have got a potential buyer for the property. It has been on sale for a while.
And he added: “As a retail destination, Nelson has been in decline for the past 35 years. Despite our best efforts and with no assistance from the council - particularly regarding parking and delivery access problems - it is with great regret after much deliberation we have taken the decision to close the Nelson shop after 60 years of trading in the town.
“We would like to thank all our customers for their loyalty over the years and hope to see them at our other locations.”