ICONIC menswear retailer Frank Bird which shut down last month will reopen next week – after the Bird family who sold it 11 years ago struck a partnership with three of the store’s longest-serving employees.
The surprise move, confirmed this week by Malcolm Bird – son of the founder Frank Bird – has seen ten people re-employed by the retailer.
Three members of staff serve as directors of the new firm along with Malcolm, and all three have invested along with the family in the new venture Frank Bird Ltd, which has already been registered with Companies House.
And the firm has also been in contact with its original suppliers – with Malcolm confirming Hugo Boss, Barbour and Paul Smith as brands the shop will stock.
“We’re talking to all of the original brands and talks have been wholly positive,” said Malcolm.
“In the short-term we will look to get it back up and running, but hopefully we can grow the business with more stock and more brands.”
Malcolm, 74, who retired when the business was sold 11 years ago, said returning to the store was never part of his plan. He said it had been the most difficult decision he had ever had to make when he called for bailiffs to force the closure last month amid spiralling unpaid rent.
Malcolm added that the shop front, which currently has the name Ashworth and Bird, would be replaced with one displaying the Frank Bird name by the Wednesday after the reopening.
“The amount of positive comments we’ve had is overwhelming, everybody seems to be delighted and wishing us luck,” he added.
“Seeing the name back above the door will please us as a family, but it will hopefully also get Frank Bird back to where it used to be.”
The road to reopening has not been entirely smooth, however. While the shutters were down, the shop suffered two break-ins – one on July 4 and again a week later – where thieves apparently gained access through the roof.
Malcolm said they caused damage costing around £7,000 to repair, and took stock approaching the same value.
“It was sheer vandalism,” he added. “It set us back considerably, but since then the alarms have been replaced and security has been tightened.”