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Harold Crabtree, Halifax

This Victorian store has been given a 21st-century refit to celebrate its centenary next year

With its Victorian grandeur, the ornate wood and glass frontage of men’s and women’s wear indie Harold Crabtree in Halifax, West Yorkshire, is glamorous and historic. But the beautiful shell hides a slick and streamlined 21st-century shopfit.

Set up in 1909 by the current owners’ grandfather as a family shoe shop in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, the Harold Crabtree business was continued by his son, a master shoemaker. In the late 1960s, an opportunity to open a second, larger shop in Halifax enabled Harold Crabtree to add menswear to its offer. In the late 1970s, womenswear was introduced into the new store in Halifax.

To celebrate its 100th birthday next year, the store’s owners made a 70,000 investment in a store refurbishment in 2007. Fran Crabtree, one of the three sibling owners, says: “We felt we needed to make the store into a real retail destination to tempt customers away from the Leeds/Manchester corridor. We wanted something that felt contemporary, but would not intimidate our existing customers. We have used downstairs as a visual concept, but upstairs is where the serious shopping takes place.”

On the ground floor, the light-flooded space is fitted out like an intimate art gallery, with high white walls acting as a clean-looking backdrop to the clothes.

Black display tables and square leather stools are the only additional props to the industrial-feel suspended rails, halogen lighting and concrete panelled floor.

Crabtree continues: “There is deliberately nothing on the walls. It doesn’t feel necessary, although that’s not to say we will never put anything up.”

Local design consultancy Bogacki Associates took five weeks to complete the job. The revamped interior has concealed lighting in the corner of the staircase and daylight spills in from behind the fitting-room mirrors.

The comfortable tread on the concrete staircase was considered to make the walk upstairs more “friendly and inviting” and the store’s central staircase is centralised to create a focal point.

The 2,000sq ft store was not an easy space to work with, says Crabtree. “The curved frontage was always difficult to work with; it made upstairs feel a bit like a barn, so we have put in a double fitting room and floating shelves to break up the curve.”

Of the three rooms upstairs, one has been converted into a stockroom, to allow the shop floor to carry only one example of each garment and maintain its uncluttered appearance.

Brands stocked include Gant, Sand and Belstaff, with Graham & Spencer, Velvet and Marith頦amp; Fran篩s Girbaud being brought in for spring 09. The split is even between menswear and womenswear, with just under a third of the offer made up of footwear.

Harold Crabtree 10 Market Street, Halifax,
West Yorkshire


70,000: Cost of the store revamp

2,000sq ft: Size of the shop floor at Harold Crabtree

20: Number of brands stocked

3: Number of siblings running the business

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