For 65 years M Holt Manchester Ltd has been supplying independent shops, co-ops, online boutiques and market traders with lingerie, nightwear and hosiery.
The family business has established a reputation over years as being one of the leading wholesalers in the industry and has even supplied underwear as props to Coronation Street’s famous factory, Underworld.
But now the company is set to close because its three directors are retiring.
Over the next three weeks, customers will have their last chance to stock up on products from the business, after which the doors will close for the final time.
“We officially close once we sell all the stock off, which we are doing quite well with,” M Holt director David Basger told Lingerie Insight.
“The longer it goes on, the harder it becomes to sell everything, but I would envisage we’ve probably got another two or three weeks and that will be it.”
M Holt was founded in 1948 by Solomon Holt, a business man who had previously specialised in underwear manufacturing, and his wife Mamie. They owned a warehouse in what was then the centre of the garment industry, today known as the Northern Quarter.
Thirty years later, the couple’s children, Steven and Michelle, together with Michelle’s husband David, took over the business.
“We took what was a well-founded business to a stronger position and eventually had to move to our current premises on Cheetham Hill Road in 1996, a month after the Manchester bomb,” said Basger.
“We were one of the first wholesalers to move out and it wasn’t long until the others followed.”
Explaining the company’s decision to cease trading, Basger said: “We have decided to retire as [my wife and I] are fast approaching 60 and have run out of steam having run the business for the best part of 36 years.
“We’ve been thinking about it for some time, but the actual moment of making the decision was a tough one and it’s been made harder by the reaction from those customers who are finding out the news, some of whom are quite devastated because they’ve been buying off us for many, many years and are part of the family, if you like.”
M Holt, which has maintained a healthy turnover over the years, will not be sold on.
“We have tried to sell the business, but the main issue was that we carry a massive stock holding,” said Basger. In order to run a successful business, you have to carry a big stock and at certain times of the year it’s worth half a million pounds. So for someone to come in and buy the business, they’d have to buy that stock too, and that was the stumbling block really.”
“We have four members of staff here, plus the directors and we’ve had four or five agents on the road. They know what’s happening so they’re sort of prepared and getting used to it,” he added.
M Holt also ships products to Latvia, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Germany, Kenya, Nigeria and St Helena.