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Suters Ltd by Russell Suter for Lower 6 Technology Diploma 1993

In 1918, at the conclusion of the Great War George Suter, my great grandfather, closed up shop in Ledbury. This shop was aptly named "G.W.Suter" and when it closed it was thought that this would be the last Suters. But this was not to be....

In September of 1920, after thwo years of retirement, George and his son Clarence, bought a shop in Slough, Buckinghamshire. They called this shop "Suter and Son" and so as to be near their new store, George and his family moved to North West London. Suter and Son was opened on September 22nd 1920, as a drapers shop, and six lady assistants were employed to help run it.

About four years later, two of George's other sons, Arthur and Frank, joined the new store and so the name had to be changed to "Suter and Sons". It was about this time that various shops were bought and added to the expanding family firm. In Uxbridge, "Carrick and Coles" was bought, in 1927, "Blanchettes Music Shop" was bought and linked to the rest of the Slough sore, in 1929 "W. Coad Ltd", also in Uxbridge, was incorporated into the business and in 1938, "Hopkins and Sons" a mens outfitters and shoe retailers were purchased.

In 1930, after ten years of successful trading of Suter and Son, George's youngest son, John, now my grandfather, joined the business and became the fifth member of the family to join.

In 1931, the shop became a Private Limited Company (PLC) and changed its name to simply "Suters". Soon it was realised that the greater growth of Slough ment more people were buying at Suters, infact more people than the store could cope with, so the original shop had to be rebuilt, a new sorey being added and modern windows and an efficient alarm system were added.

The rebuilding of the shop was completed in 1934. At the same time the Uxbridge site was sold and a new building was constructed next to the bus and underground station.

In 1939, at the beginning of the Second World War, John and Frank Suter joined the services. John joined the RAF and Frank joined the army. In 1946, John and Frank returned unhurt, but the combination of the strain of Suters and the joy of his sons safe return proved too much for the elderley George Suter and he fell seriously ill. Unfortunately he never recovered from his illness and died soon after.

Suters continued to expand, adding three more shops in 1960, but unfortunately these lasted for only a few years, since they did not bring in enough money and they had to be closed down.

In the early sixties, Suters underwent extensive remodernisations which cost'250,000. The staff doubled in number, escalators and lifts were fitted and a modern loudspeaker system was incorporated. It sold everything from glass to carpets, clothes to perfume and toys to gifts at very competitive prices. It had a restaurant a hairdressing and beauty salon and even had a special section for smokers. It was the Harrods of Slough and Uxbridge and was often referred to as the most up to date department sore in the area. The shop's "Catchphrase" was "Store gazing" and with the elaborate window displays one could only agree.

All male members of the family had roles in managing and directing the firm, except Ian and George Suter. My father, Robert Suter, was the buyer of china and kitchen hardware, and my mother was the separates buyer.

My earliest memories of Suters were the half scale toy locomotive in the childrens' shoe department, the panelled offices with plush leather armchairs and roaming around the stores, often creating havoc, after all who would correct one of the directors' offspring?

Unfortunately, like all big department stores, Suters had its own share of violence. One incidence saw my uncle Richard Suter, being hit in the mouth by some "thugs", and because of this he had to be taken to hospital with a broken jaw. Vandalism was also a problem. In thwo weeks '450 worth of windows were smashed, the handles were pulled off toilets, telephone directories were thrown out of windows and stink bombs were let off around the store. Infact my father was constantly being called out to attend to the burgular alarm, usually set off by vandals intent on damage or hooligans messing around.

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©Russ Suter - 1993

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