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Yorkshire fashion agency to close as it turns 100

Yorkshire-based fashion agency Burgess Enterprises will close its doors this year, after a century in business.

Husband-and-wife directors Robert and Julia Burgess will both retire from the company, which currently represents French womenswear brand Saint James, in May.

The family business was founded in 1919 by Robert’s grandfather, Harold Burgess, under the name Harold EV Burgess & Sons, and represented womenswear brand Eastex. Originally based in Leeds, in the late 1940s the company opened a second location in Manchester. Robert became director in 1983.

Over its 100 years of trading, the agency has represented German brands Lebek and Olsen and Gabriella Rossi among others.

Taking on board St James in 2012, Robert moved the showroom to Hunsingore in Wetherby, West Yorkshire, and closed the Leeds office.

Robert said: ”The ‘Rag Trade’ has provided me, and my wife, with a most varied lifestyle and a most challenging career. We’ve travelled all over Europe on business, and all over the UK meeting, and seeking, customers. It’s a high-risk way to earn a living, and we were lucky to have a family business to start our working life with, as this cushioned us from some of the riskier aspects of the trade. We’ve made great friends among our staff and customers, and our social life has revolved around the business in many ways.

“The decision to retire has been hard to make, but, inevitably, the physical nature of what we do takes its toll and we felt that the work needed someone younger and fitter to go forward for the future. We hope to see more of our garden and our family and do less driving in the years ahead.”

Although it is open to a sale to interested parties, any future representation would have to be approved by Saint James, which has been approached by prospective new agencies. 


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