Rutherfords of Morpeth changes hands
Department store Rutherfords of Morpeth has been sold after more than 170 years in the Rutherford family.
MD Richard Rutherford, the fifth-generation family member to run the flagship store in Bridge Street, Morpeth, has announced his retirement.
The store was bought for an undisclosed sum by general manager Chris Mitchell, who took over the day-to-day running of Rutherfords two years ago when Richard, 67, took a back seat. The private sale sees the departure of Richard’s mother Audrey, his sister Anne Petrie and finance director Seymour Jobling as directors.
Chris Mitchell says: “Richard has been an incredible mentor to me over the seven years I have been at Rutherfords, and I am excited about putting into practice everything he has taught me. He has instilled his retail ethos and values into me, and I want to build on those for the future as the world of retail continues to change dramatically.
“I have had the opportunity to play a key role in the evolution of the department store and embrace new trends. The challenge as we move forwards is to keep the traditional feel of the department store that has been part of the fabric of Morpeth for many decades, while ensuring it continues to evolve and appeal to a wider market.”
The store will retain its name, and its 40 employees have been retained.
Richard Rutherford comments: “Sometimes things can’t stay the same but, in this case, although I will be retiring due to the fact there is no family to carry on, the business itself will continue.
“Over the past seven years I’ve had the pleasure of working with Chris who has brought a new energy and vision to the company. For the past two years he has run it as my CEO. Even though we have had interest in the business from third parties I could not have wished for a better outcome for the staff and for Morpeth. It is like passing it over to my own son.
“There’s a loyal team of staff involved in buying decisions for the store. They will be part of the next generation taking things forward, so it will be business as usual.”
Pictured: New owner Chris Mitchell and outgoing MD Richard Rutherford