UPDATE: Dan Kerr Brides closes suddenly - leaving couples panicking about their weddings

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Brides and grooms-to-be fear that they could be left in the lurch after an historic Blackpool firm closed its doors suddenly this morning.

A number of ceremonies face being cancelled after Dan Kerr Brides said it 'had no alternative but to close', leaving scores of couples without expensive gowns and suits for their big day, some of which were due to take place this weekend.

Customers arrived at the shop this morning to find this sign in a window

Customers arrived at the shop this morning to find this sign in a window

One furious groom has threatened to sue over the debacle, while The Gazette has been flooded with calls from brides who said they have handed over thousands of pounds for their dream dresses - and now have nothing to show for it.

However, the company claiming to have removed stock from the shop says 'nothing will be sold until customers are dealt with first', and pledged: "Hundreds of the dresses we have collected have names on, with details of outstanding balances.

"In many such instances, they show nil outstanding balance as the dress has been paid for. In all such instances, customers can pay the outstanding balance - or nothing if fully paid for - and collect their dresses."

Michelle Mitchell, 28, who paid over £1,000 for three bridesmaid dresses and seven suits, said she was asked to pop into the shop on Thursday to pay ahead of the bank holiday break.

One mother-of-the-bride said dresses were carried out the building this morning. It was left looking like this.

One mother-of-the-bride said dresses were carried out the building this morning. It was left looking like this.

She said staff were still in their uniform and in tears at the Belle Vue pub in Whitegate Drive at lunchtime - and claims they told her they were only informed of the closure after arriving for work this morning.

Her wedding to 31-year-old David Pommany - set to take place at Pavilion on the Prom in August - now faces being called off, despite the pair already forking out for the venue, which is based inside the Park House Hotel.

"There's no way we can do it now," Michelle, of Knox Grove in Blackpool said. "We would either have to get married in tracksuits or cancel the flowers and photographer. I think we will just have to cancel.

"There's no way we can do it now."

Jenny Burgeen told The Gazette her daughter's fiancé arrived at the store for a suit fitting at 9am today after unsuccessfully trying to reach staff by phone all weekend.

The 49-year-old said: "There are going to be a lot of people affected. There could be somebody getting married this weekend and now they may not have anything to wear."

Jenny's daughter Natalie, 22, now faces a race against time to get her expensive dress back and altered in time to wed hubby-to-be Ryan White, also 22, in Wrea Green in July.

Costing hundreds of pounds, it had been paid for and was being stored at the Church Street store alongside Jenny's veil from her wedding 29 years ago.

"She's distraught," Jenny added. "She was in tears and really upset. She has not had an easy time in the last five years and this has been a kick in the teeth."

Ryan, of Elaine Avenue in Marton, said he has been forced to shop elsewhere in a hurry after paying a £50 deposit for his and his groomsmen's suits, and said the pair's daughter, four-year-old Rebecca, will no longer be able to wear the dream dress she had picked out at the shop.

He said: "I feel angry and let down. There was no warning, or sign, or email. I got a text message on Monday saying, 'We are looking forward to seeing you for your suit fitting'.

"Natalie wanted Rebecca to wear the same dress as her and this one was almost identical. I'm just going to have to sit her down and tell her we are going to have to find her another one."

And Charlotte Cartwright, 23, of Alderley Avenue in South Shore, said she has handed over £2,070 for six bridesmaid dresses, 10 suit hires, two page boys suits, and two flower girls' dresses.

She is set to marry 29-year-old Lee Church at the Preston Marriott Hotel in early June. She said: "I'm absolutely raging. It's my worst nightmare really.

"It took four months to get the dresses into the shop from ordering. How are we going to get some new ones in just five weeks?"

Tom Wheatman, of The Mede in Freckleton, said he paid around £550 for five suits - for him, his two best men, his usher, and the father of his bride-to-be Victoria Smith, 31 - for his wedding at Ribby Hall on Saturday.

The 31-year-old said: "I was meant to pick them up tomorrow. I don't know what I'm going to do. We don't have the money. I'm devastated."

And Sally Hedges, 50, said she paid approximately £1,400 for a wedding dress, tiara, and two bridesmaid dresses.

Her wedding to 44-year-old Michael Fairclough was originally scheduled for Sunday, June 4, but has been put back.

Sally, of Fordby Avenue in Layton, said she is now waiting to find out if she will still receive the dresses or lost her money.

She said: "I'm peeved. That's the polite term."

Dan Kerr, which also had a store in Lancaster Road, Preston, had been supplying dresses, accessories, and suits for the past century.

It was still being run by family members, but has now called in insolvency experts Leonard Curtis to handle its administration.

A sign in the window at Blackpool said: "We regret to have to inform customers that after over 100 years of trading as a family business, we have had no alternative but to close down.

"The stock and assets are all being moved to suitable safe secure storage, and individual letters will be sent to each customer in relation to dresses which have been ordered and/or paid for."

"We would urge customers to wait for the letters ... prior to any written correspondence only, with Leonard Curtis at the above address, with any queries," the sign in the window added.

Other customers left anxiously waiting for news from Leonard Curtis include Susan Folks, 52, of Ivy Avenue in South Shore, whose son Scott paid £250 for her dress.

She said she feels 'fortunate' her wedding to 63-year-old Derick Barrow isn't until next May, and added: "You think with it being a reputable firm and a big firm you would be okay, but you never know.

"We are just playing the waiting game now. At least I have a year to go, unlike some of these poor girls getting married in the next couple of weeks."

A spokesman for Blackpool Council said a number of calls have been fielded this afternoon. Trading standards can be called for advice on 01253 478375.

Nobody at Leonard Curtis could be immediately reached for a comment. A recorded message said the firm was 'currently experiencing a high volume of calls'.

Corporate recovery firm Robson Kay Associates said 'much of the information in the comments section [of The Gazette's Facebook post breaking the news of Dan Kerr's closure this morning] was misleading'.

In a statement, it said: "There have been no bailiffs. The stock has been uplifted to ensure it is kept safe and dealt with in an orderly fashion.

"Nothing will be sold until customers have been dealt with first. We must first finish the uplift and then collate information on the stock.

"Those who are suggesting on Facebook that customers should contact us now are delaying matters, as we are now fielding telephone calls instead of collating information on the stock.

"You will be written to shortly by Leonard Curtis. Hundreds of the dresses we have collected have names on, with details of outstanding balances.

"In many such instances, they show nil outstanding balance as the dress has been paid for.

"In all such instances, customers can pay the outstanding balance - or nothing if fully paid for - and collect their dresses.

"We recognize this is a stressful situation but please bear with us and should you wish, send your details by email to enquiries@robsonkay.co.uk, which is monitored closely."