Discover our humble beginnings

Swipe left and right or use the arrows to navigate through time. See how Lakeland has innovated and grown as a company to become the brand you know and love today.

Collage of photos from 1960s


Innovators from the start

In the school holidays over 50 years ago, three brothers in need of pocket money started helping their dad count polythene bags into packs of 100...

Those lads - Sam, Martin and Julian Rayner - didn't have the faintest idea where it would lead them, but by sticking to their father's philosophy of 'always look after the customer and the business will look after itself', Lakeland has blossomed into what it is today - one of the UK's leading kitchenware companies.
As Alan Rayner visited farms selling feed, he bought chickens to sell at Kendal market. He plucked and prepared them before packing them into plastic bags, and they sold better than the other smallholder's chickens. They asked if they could buy some bags from him, and word about Alan's bags began to spread.

Working from his garage, Alan grafted away as demand took off, and in 1964 Lakeland Plastics was born.

Alan went to his first Agricultural show (using his sons' pool table as a stand), where he sold plastic bags, covers for haystacks, silage sheeting and Lammacs - plastic coats to protect newborn lambs!

He soon outgrew the garage, and in the second half of the decade moved to Alexandra Road where there was more space to work.
Collage of photos from 1970s


The Big Freeze

Alan retired in '74, leaving Sam, Martin and Julian (who was still at school!) to take over the family business. Home freezing was the 'in thing' and Lakeland was leading the way.

A moment of inspiration told us that people who froze food also cooked it! So along came the 'Everything for Home Cooking' catalogue. We scaled down the agricultural side, and headed in the direction of all things kitchenware.
Michelle Kershaw joined Lakeland Plastics and quickly learned everything there was to know about home freezing and kitchenware. Our resident expert, Michelle was the face of Lakeland, and eventually became our Customer Director, a role she loved dearly until she passed away in 2004.

Time once more to move to a bigger location, this time into the disused Station Master's house. Our first real office - orders were taken from the front room, and customer records were stored in the cast iron bath!
Collage of photos from 1980s


Mail Order Pioneers

From mailing 6-page leaflets, we went to full colour catalogues... a big step that got our range under more of our customers' noses.

We moved to our current home, a larger space by the railway station where we could have offices, a warehouse, and a little store to be proud of, all under one roof.

We became renowned as one of the UK's leading kitchen and homeware suppliers, gaining a reputation for excellent customer service.
Collage of photos from 1990s


What's in a name?

Having grown from the heart of the Lake District, the 'Lakeland' part of our name has been - and always will be - an important part of our brand. However, as our diverse range of products grew, the 'Plastics' part of Lakeland Plastics didn't feel quite right anymore. After much deliberation, we renamed ourselves 'Lakeland Limited'.
We invested in a new distribution centre in Kendal, the base for replenishing the shelves in our mail order despatch department, and in our growing number of stores nationwide.

Closer to the millennium, we joined the World Wide Web. While the rest of the world was worrying about the 'millennium bug', we took our first steps with our website.
Collage of photos from 2000s


The turn of the century

We were running out of space to pack parcels in Windermere - the solution: extend our Kendal site! Our state-of-the-art Direct Despatch Centre allowed us to send thousands of orders every day - a far cry from the days when the Rayner brothers wheeled parcels to the post office on a trolley!

With the newfound space at Windermere, we developed our modern flagship store, which doubled the size of the old shop. We added a café on the first floor, and gave our offices a modern makeover, too.
Wendy, our Customer Ambassador, was coaxed away from the Tunbridge Wells store where she'd been manager for over a decade, so she could be the eyes and ears for our customers, making sure we keep up the service that sets us apart from the rest.

By 2006, our innovation, great quality and customer service was hard to beat. We were now recognisable as one of the UK's most exciting destinations for kitchenware, and so we felt it was time to make another slight tweak to our name. We became known as Lakeland, and have been ever since.

2007 was a year of big launches for us, as we saw the launch of our first ever Dry:Soon Heated Airer, which has gone on to revolutionise indoor drying. It's been a staple in our range ever since, and continues to grow, as we introduce innovations to transform the way you dry your clothes. It was around this time that the first air fryer appeared in our range: the original Tefal Actifry. This was a hugely popular product; in fact, our customers loved it so much that our supplier was unable to supply it anywhere else, meaning it was a Lakeland exclusive for over a year!
Collage of photos from 2010s


Bigger and better

In the early days, we were just a small team, but as we crept into the new decade we had over 1500 colleagues, and some of them had been here for 10 or 20 years - a few for a remarkable 30! As the business grew, so did our number of stores, with over 60 Lakeland stores nationwide.

We won our fair share of awards throughout the decade, including 'Excellence In Retail Display - Multiple Or Department Store' and 'Excellence In Specialist Retailing - Multiples And Large Independents' in 2013 and 2016 respectively. In 2019, we were rated first for retail customer service experience in the Which? 'Top of the Shops', as well as second overall.
As for our print mailings, it's hard to imagine the days when we only had a single-sheet black and white leaflet. Throughout the 2010s, we were mailing 18 catalogues a year, each filled with hundreds of kitchen gadgets, cleaning solutions and cooking electricals. Our Christmas catalogue is a huge hit every year - our customers start asking about it soon after our Autumn mailing hits their doorsteps!

We were lucky enough to collaborate with some of the UK's biggest names, including Prue Leith, Davina McCall and Mary Berry (who has been a Lakeland customer for many years), to name a few, developing their own bespoke cooking and baking ranges to delight our customers.

The decade saw a natural shift towards internet shopping, with more people choosing to order online via our website. We also launched our Facebook and Instagram pages, building an online Lakeland community of over 400,000 followers, so customers can keep in touch with us.

Towards the end of the decade, in 2019, our myLakeland members club was born. Since then, our wonderful customers have been signing up in their droves and the club has grown at a rate that we couldn't have predicted (but are thrilled with!). But more on that in the next decade…
Collage of photos from 2020s


Big birthdays and a bright future

Although the decade got off to a rocky start due to the Covid19 pandemic, we pulled together to make sure we continued to help customers make the most of their time at home - we just couldn't keep up with the demand for breadmakers as the nation turned to their kitchens during the lockdowns.

Working from our HQ in the heart of the Lake District, you can always count on our friendly and knowledgeable contact centre colleagues to answer your product queries - the same goes for our store colleagues, who are always on hand to offer a warm welcome. As of 2023, we've racked up over 100k Trustpilot reviews, with an overall rating of 4.7 out of 5 - testament to the training we put into our customer service.
In 2023, we were awarded the 'Excellence In Retail Display - Multiple Or Department Store' at the Excellence In Housewares Awards, and our very own Malcolm King, who has worked with us for a remarkable 50 years, was awarded 'Retail Employee Of The Year'.

2024 is an extra special year for us at Lakeland, as it sees us celebrate a big birthday… we're turning 60! (We've come a long way since Alan's garage in 1964). 60 years of Lakeland means 60 years of innovation, unsung heroes and kitchen gadgets that make your life that little bit easier.

As well as our 60th anniversary, 2024 also marks 5 years of myLakeland. Since 2019, we've grown our community to over 2.5 million members, hosted live events, given away some amazing products and experiences in our prize draws, and partnered with some incredible businesses to provide exciting opportunities for our members. Thanks to our myLakeland club, you've helped us raise over £550,000 in 5 years for national and local charities, which is just incredible. Thank you for shopping with us - we don't take your custom for granted.

2024 sees us launch our very own myLakeland app, which we're incredibly excited about. By putting myLakeland in your pocket, it enables us to grow and improve our club to create the very best experience for our community of customers.