ROBIN Elt, head of one of the area’s oldest family businesses, has died at the age of 73.

Together with his daughter Jenny, Mr Elt ran Robin Elt Shoes, which had eight branches across Worcestershire including the Shambles, in Worcester, Herefordshire and Shropshire and down to Torquay and Totnes in Devon.

The pair were the fourth and fifth generation of Elts to run a retail footwear business, which will now continue with Jenny at the helm.

The company can trace its roots back to a small shop selling “Goode Boots for Ladyes and Gentlemen”, which was opened in The Shambles, Worcester in 1824 by William Webly. In 1872 the business was purchased by Albert Edward Elt and his wife Eliza, who began its steady growth by purchasing the next door property, a public house called the Market Tavern.

This led to the creation of one of the most recognisable shop frontages in The Shambles, with Elts standing opposite Thee Shambles Market Hall. At the end of the 1960s, Roy Elt, Robin’s father, merged the business with Church Group’s retail division – which operated in Worcester in the former Elts shop as Jones Bootmaker - and Robin went on to become branded buying director for the whole group.

In 1991 he took back the Elt shops in Malvern and Leominster to resume independent retailing and since then Robin Elt Shoes has gone from strength to strength.

In last year’s national Footwear Industry Awards it was shortlisted in five categories and Jenny Elt attended the event in Birmingham’s National Conference Centre to collect the Men’s Independent Footwear Retailer of the Year award. The company had previously won outdoor retailer of the year and best independent retailer of the year, making it one of the most successful independent footwear retailers in the country.

Mr Elt lived in Church Street, Malvern. His wife Diana said: ”Robin was diagnosed with cancer 18 months ago, but carried on in the business for as long as he could. He died peacefully in Worcestershire Royal Hospital.”

Robin Elt’s funeral will be private, but a memorial service is be held in Worcester `at a date to be announced. He leaves a wife Diana, daughter Jenny and grandson William.