End of an era as Mann’s prepares to shut up shop

Nigel Mann is ready to retire after 40 years running Mann and Son In Spalding.  Photo (TIM WILSON): SG120115-102TW.
Nigel Mann is ready to retire after 40 years running Mann and Son In Spalding. Photo (TIM WILSON): SG120115-102TW.
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Spalding town centre will soon be missing one of its landmark names after a decision by the owners of a long-standing menswear store to retire.

Mann and Son in Hall Place is to close after 104 years in what owner Nigel Mann (60) described as a “very difficult and emotional decision to take early retirement”.

Generations of boys have been “kitted out” with their school uniforms by Nigel, his wife Joy and sales asssistant Stuart Parkin since they took over running the store in 1974.

Nigel said: “It’s something we’ve been thinking about for 18 months because as much as we love what we do, it has to come at some point and there’s more to life than running a menswear shop.

“Business in Spalding is still good and we’re up on sales compared to last year which is why it’s been a very difficult and emotional decision to close the shop.

“Our relationship with the customers has been superb and the contact with them is something we’ll miss. But when the tape measure is hung up for the last time, it will enable Joy and I to have a proper holiday, as well as for me to spend some quality time in the garage.”

Mann and Son was opened by Nigel’s grandfather John William Mann in February 1911 when George V was king, Herbert Asquith was Prime Minister, the Suffragette movement campaigned for women to have the vote and the Titanic was first launched.

Nigel said: “I believe that my grandfather bought the business as a menswear shop, but they had no idea it would survive two World Wars, numerous recessions and a third generation of the Mann family.

“Spalding’s strength is its independent shops, with their edge of good customer service and customer care.

“The town still has a very strong retail environment and if it didn’t have these independent shops, it would be like any other town.”

For the past 60 years or more, Mann and Son has specialised in supplying school uniforms for both Spalding Grammar School and the town’s Sir John Gleed School.

Nigel said: “I’ve kitted out a child with their school uniform and subsequently served the person’s son.

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“A lot of people think the old-fashioned nature of a shop is a quality because when they go into a department store, they are met with indifference.

“That’s a part of the business I enjoy and the day when I turn the key in the door for the last time, it will be a hugely emotional.

“But it hasn’t come yet.”

Nigel Ryan, who himself is due to retire as headmaster of Spalding Grammar School in July, said: “I have always found Nigel Mann and his staff to be extremely helpful and accommodating and, as well as supplying top quality uniform over so many years, he has provided invaluable advice when we have been considering changes to our uniform.

“We wish Nigel, Joy and Stuart all the very best for a long and happy retirement.”