L-R: new owner Chris Mitchell and Richard Rutherford.
Jane Imrie

New era for historic Northumberland department store with change of ownership

A Northumberland department store has been sold after more than 170 years as a family-run business.

Rutherfords of Morpeth has been bought by its general manager Chris Mitchell for an undisclosed sum.

Rutherfords, which has been in the town since 1846, will retain its name and its 40 employees have been assured of their future under the new ownership.

The sale sees the departure of managing director Richard Rutherford who is choosing to retire, as well as the exit of Richard’s mother Audrey, his sister Anne Petrie and finance director Seymour Jobling as directors.

Commenting on the sale, Richard said: “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.”

Rutherfords’ new owner Chris Mitchell added: “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.”

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