POPULAR Chester homeware store Lakeland is celebrating its 40th anniversary this weekend with a series of events and faces new and old.

Free gifts, discount and a tea party are just a few of the things shoppers can expect for the four-day celebration.

Brothers Sam and Julian Rayner, who were handed the store from their father along with brother Martin, thanked Chester’s 'footfall’ for their success, having chosen the city for the first of their 67 stores.

Lakeland has attributed some of their successes to Mary Berry and Delia Smith. “Mary Berry would do lots of demos for us”, Julian recounted, having been friends with the ex-Bake off host for a number of years.

Lakeland’s Morecambe branch was set to close when Delia Smith promoted a chestnut pan. Shoppers were said to be queuing outside the shop to get their hands on the must-have appliance. “They couldn’t get enough”, Julian recalled.

But there’s a lot more to the Rayner brothers’ success than a bevy of TV cooks. Lakeland has led the way for high street shops with its innovative, forward-thinking and customer-first approach.

Due to ‘fewer people coming into the city centre’, Lakeland has placed an emphasis on an experience customers can’t get online, having previously been a mail order company.

They pride themselves on stocking sustainable, environmentally friendly gadgets, from a water filter to reusable vegetable bags, but also unique tools, such as a cup which creates an ‘insect free zone within a 20 metre radius’.

There is a timeless theme among the products, with retro pieces featuring alongside more modern appliances.

Julian Rayner, owner of Lakeland, along with his two brothers, spoke of his love for Chester: “It’s a fabulous place isn’t it.

“It’s changed a lot. Empty shops, you never would have seen that 40 years ago, I remember Browns was the place to go shopping in the North of England.

“The world's moved on to the internet but Chester’s still a great place I think.”

Dorothy, who has worked at Chester’s Lakeland branch since its opening 40 years ago, spoke of her experience: “To start with it was a struggle, then the door took off.

“We’ve had three shops in Chester, from Eastgate Row, to Bridge Street temporarily, now here.”