Peters Has it’s origins in the department store Kaye’s, founded in 1863. The store was central to the Huddersfield shopping scene for over a century. Ernest Whittle became joint Managing Director of the store, after a lifetime of service, and was in the position until his death in 1976.
After his death, his sons Alan and Peter took over his role in the company, but found the conditions for business became more and more difficult. Both the national economic situation and more local issues really started to impact trade in the town centre, and the store began to struggle.
In July of 1982, Kaye’s shut the door of it’s King Street store for the final time.
The birth of Peters
Having worked in Kaye’s since 1948, Peter Whittle was embedded in the retail trade and following the closure of the King Street department shop he sought to open a new store, bearing his own name. The store named Peters opened in that same year, and began to trade well in the town centre immediately.
The store enjoyed many years of success, into the 1990s, when in 1991 Peter Whittle decided to retire. The store’s founder left his son David and David’s wife Caroline to run the business on a day to day basis. Peter retained an interest and stayed on as chairman.
Having initially met on the Peter’s shop floor back in the 1980s, David and Caroline have a great affection for the store. The 90s brought continued success for the store- thriving at the heart of Huddersfield as it’s centrepiece department store.
Following the success of the company in the 1990s, the millenium brought bad news for Huddersfield’s retail anchor. As globalisation took over, including the creation of the Kingsgate shopping centre in 2001, Peters began to face great difficulties. Competing against nationwide and global chain stores with enormous budgets and massive infrastructure was not easy, particularly in an ever evolving retail market. With the global recession of 2008, the business began to struggle.
A new beginning
In recent years, the store has had to shrink to stay alive. Competing with the behemoths of the retail industry was not something that could be done on a large scale. However as a local business, recognised and loved by it’s customers, the store did survive.
A new location inside the Packhorse Centre meant Huddersfield’s own department store stayed open through difficult times in the industry, and for all small businesses. The Whittle family have re-built and re-branded the business, to set it up for years to come. From the previous challenging decade or so, the family are used to dealing with challenges, but are now able to look to the future, a stable and sustainable local business providing for their loyal customer base for years to come.
The next generation
Looking forwards to the running of the store, one of David and Caroline’s sons- Joseph is now involved in the business and are looking to help evolve the store as time moves forwards, and new challenges present themselves to high street businesses. He studied business to a high level and will be implementing his knowledge in the running of the family business alongside his parents.