Britain’s most famous tackle shop has closed its doors for the last time as the recession continues to grip the sport.
Yorkshire’s legendary Bennetts of Sheffield was one of the pioneers of mail order and has supplied hundreds of thousands of anglers over its illustrious 56-year history.
Managing director Harry Peck told Angling Times that the business simply couldn’t keep banging its head against a brick wall and needed to call time on trading before the company reserves were exhausted.
“There are numerous reasons why trading has become harder and harder, but ultimately you can’t continue to make a loss. At some stage you have to take a responsible stance and say enough is enough.”
Famous for pioneering credit terms for anglers to pay-off gear on a weekly basis, the family concern was created by respected match anglers Harry and Peter Bennett. Originally working on the railways, the national championship winners used to organise matchfishing trips by rail with over 3,000 men travelling together to the River Witham from Sheffield on a weekend.
It was this connection with fishermen that prompted the creation of Bennetts of Sheffield, as well as a successful exhibition company.
In recent times the mail order angling business has become highly competitive, and a disastrous flood in 2007, that saw the city and the shop under water, compounded problems.
Harry explained: “I suppose when Peter Bennett passed away five years ago some of the shop’s sparkle disappeared too. Pointing the finger at any single issue would be impossible as a number of factors have come to the fore. The flood that disrupted business and the subsequent lack of government support was hard to recover from. Then there was the postal strike and many customers thought we couldn’t distribute tackle when in fact we actually use other carriers.
“Moving on from that, the recession has taken its toll and continues to blight consumer confidence, and the failure by some tackle companies to supply gear this year has meant we’ve been forced to disappoint anglers even though we printed catalogues in good faith.
“Despite the claimed green shoots of recovery we couldn’t see any evidence of improving trading conditions and in the end it was time to close our doors.
“We’ve had to say goodbye to 25 loyal staff, which has been emotional, but their support has been second to none.”
The business is now in creditors’ voluntary liquidation and Angling Times understands bids are already being formulated for the company name, assets and database of anglers.