Iconic store to close after 60 years of loyal service

Peter Buggins, manager of Arthur Whitcher, Banbury, which is closing down in June. NNL-150317-180833009
Peter Buggins, manager of Arthur Whitcher, Banbury, which is closing down in June. NNL-150317-180833009

One of Banbury’s most iconic family-owned businesses has announced its closure in June.

Whitcher Menswear will close its doors for the last time after a three-month clearance sale. The Parsons Street shop has been serving the male population of Banburyshire for 61 years and current manager Peter Buggins has made his daily trip to work from Coventry for two decades.

He said: “It is rather sad the shop is closing but times have changed since the downturn of 2008 and the rise of online shopping.

“We are a traditional gentlemen’s outfitter with our own tailor, offering a really personal service, which is a dying thing. The backbone of our business has been the 70 per cent of customers who are regulars. They tend to be of the age whose children have left home and they like the traditional service we provide.”

Mr Buggins, who is also buyer for the small independent shop, has stocked a wide selection of carefully chosen styles in modest numbers.

He said it was with regret he is now ordering sale posters rather than a new range.

Whitcher Menswear was started in Leicester by Michael Whitcher, now 85 and still managing director. At its height the chain had ten stores across the Midlands from Leicester to Wednesbury and Banbury, which Mr Whitcher opened in 1954.

Mr Buggins said: “This will be my third and last closure for Whitcher Menswear. I started work in 1968 in the Coventry store. I was taken on as a sales assistant and became manager after four years.

“When that branch closed in 1988 I went to Hinckley. And when that closed I came to Banbury and have been here for 20 years.”

Mr Buggins will retire after locking up for the last time on June 20 and looks forward to spending more free time with his wife, daughters and eight grandchildren.

Three other members of staff will also lose their jobs. One, Caroline Graham, started as a ‘Saturday girl’ at the shop 31 years ago.

The Banbury premises are owned by Michael Whitcher, but it is not known whether he intends to sell them.