Fashion retailer celebrates 50 years in Norwich

Menswear shop Chadds is celebrating its 50 year anniversary. Emma Harrowing talks to owner John Kingsley about the key to the independent shop's survival.

The last 50 years have flown by for John Kingsley since he took over menswear shop Chadds on Bedford Street in Norwich.

As Mr Kingsley celebrates 50 years at the helm of Chadds, he has this advice for other independent retailers in Norwich: 'Build a solid foundation in which to grow your business, then in tough times – and believe me they don't come much tougher than they are now – your business can weather the storm.'

The family also owns menswear boutiques Jonathan Trumbull and Hatters and womenswear boutique Ginger.

'We are a family business and this has held us in good stead. When I bought Chadds my sons Roger and David were at school but would help out in the shop. It was inevitable that they should go on to become directors of our shops.

'Times have definitely changed in the city centre,' says Mr Kingsley.

'In the 60s there were not as many shops as there are now. When Chapelfield opened it felt as if all the shoppers shifted to that side of the city centre – but then I always say that Chadds is a hidden gem in the city.'

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The years have seen many changes to Chadds. The original oak panelling was painted black to bring a 'London feel to the store' and about 30 years ago the building collasped and had to be rebuilt. Chadds also expanded in 2004 by buying the shop next door.

'Roger and David were the ones that pushed for us buying the shop next door so that we could hold more stock and expand,' says Mr Kingsley.

'Family and friends have been important in us reaching 50 years and in this I include the staff led by manager Simon Newland who has been with us for 26 years since he left the Hewitt School – we are like one big family.'

The traditional shop relies on providing shoppers with good customer service and traditional brands, including bespoke tailoring and younger brands such as Gant and Lacoste.

It is these ethics that Mr Kingsley aims to continue.

'It is also important that people buy from local independent shops to ensure their survival,' says Mr Kingsley.

'Over the past 50 years we have lived and breathed local retail. It has been fantastic!'

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