A family-run furniture shop in Clitheroe is preparing to close after serving customers for 154 years.

Ian Sowerbutts, owner of H M Sowerbutts & Co, is currently selling off remaining stock and predicts the historic business will be closed in around six weeks.

Ian, who has run the business for a decade and worked there for 47 years, said the decision to close is “bittersweet”.

Sowerbutts shop front in 1952Sowerbutts shop front in 1952 (Image: NQ)

He said: “There are a number of partners in the business and the senior partner wanted to take their money out of the business.

“Due to [my] age the decision was taken to sell the stock. Once you’re left with no stock all that is left is to sell the building and that’s the end of it.

“After 154 years this wasn’t an easy decision to make. I feel bittersweet about this.

"It’s sad and I don’t want to see this happen but we’ve had some fantastic customers and staff over the years.

“Staff are still working very hard and I have a tremendous amount of respect for them.”

Ian said the business has weathered the coronavirus pandemic and the 2008 recession.

Ian SowerbuttsIan Sowerbutts (Image: Ian Sowerbutts)

“Staff were great during Covid,” Ian said. “It was a difficult time but the staff worked hard under tough conditions. I want to thank customers who bought items during Covid.

“The happy memories here outweigh the negative.”

Ian wants to thank customers for their support over the decades.

Sowerbutts family members and staff in the shop windowSowerbutts family members and staff in the shop window (Image: NQ)

“We’ve been fortunate to have had so many customers over the years from multiple generations,” he said.

“Customers have wished us all the best and bought furniture in droves – we have never been so busy and work has been non-stop.

“They’ve given us some very nice messages.

“I want to thank staff and customers. If anyone wants to be part of this story come in while we have stock left because once it’s gone – it’s gone.”

In the modern day, Sowerbutts is renowned for selling beds and home furniture but it hasn’t always been a furniture business.

It has evolved a lot from its earliest days when it was founded by John Sowerbutts, Ian’s great-great-grandfather.

John, who was a cabinet maker by trade, set up his first shop on Moor Lane in 1870 and would make furniture to order.

He made cabinets and coffins and the undertaking side of the business continued until the 1960s.

The business moved to King Street in the 1920s.

Through the 50s, Sowerbutts became one of the first companies in the area to stock the latest fitted carpets but demand for hand-built furniture was dwindling.

In the 80s it began to evolve into the retail business it is today.