A FAMILY-RUN firm which has been trading for almost 50 years is sadly set to close.

Higgs Leather, in the Victoria Shopping Centre, Southend, is preparing to shut up shop after 48 years of business.

The company has in fact been specialising in fine leather and sheepskin jackets since 1934 when James William Higgs opened his first shop in London.

His children continued the business and moved to Westcliff, before opening the current shop in Southend town centre in October 1969.

The shop is now run by James Higgs’s two grandsons Jim and Jack.

But they have decided not to renew their lease and instead will be shutting shop and focusing on their online sales instead.

Jack Higgs-Wilson said: “The lease for the shop has ended and we don’t want to sign another one at this stage so we’re closing.

“We will be running the online shop and keeping the stock in a warehouse though.

“We’ve always done well online and it has taken over shop sales in the last few years.

“Of course we will be sad to see it go. We’ve been here for so many years.”

The shop’s website dispatches their goods all over the world and Mr Higgs-Wilson is confident it will continue to do well.

He added: “All our customers who use the shop know we’re online so they will still be able to buy our goods. But we also do a big international trade. We’ve shipped coats out to the USA, China, South Africa, Canada and Russia.”

Despite previously expressing concern about losing footfall because of the crossing, which was completed in 2011, Mr Higgs-Wilson says this is not a reason why they are closing.

He added: “That crossing has definitely had an effect on the trade in the town centre. We all know it and I’ve told the council that. But it didn’t really affect us in the long run and is not why we’re closing, we just want to focus on our online business.”

There is no set date when the shop will close yet, but their products can be found at higgsleathers.co.uk