A retail manager who has guaranteed that thousands of feet have walked in comfort for four decades is taking a step into his own future.
David Farrar, manager of Eldon Square’s busy Charles Clinkard shoe shop, is retiring after a career that began when platforms were all the rage, and the intu shopping centre was still a twinkle in an architect’s eye.
“I started working for Clinkard’s in Leeds in 1975, and then moved up to the new Eldon Square store in 1978, one year after the centre opened,” he said.
Although Mr Farrar saw plenty of platforms struggling past in those days, he never had to deal with them himself.
“Our aim was always to sell high-quality shoes with a great deal of style – so we didn’t really bother with the platforms,” he said.
“When I started, we only had four stores – and we now have 33 around the country,” he said.
“Retail has changed enormously, and we’ve embraced the internet in a big way, which is giving our business a huge boost.”
Mr Farrar lives in Whitley Bay with wife Saundra and is retiring in the same week as his 36th wedding anniversary.
“It’s been fantastic working with such great people,” he said.
“There are not many people who can say they not only know the head of their company, but I count our managing director Charles Clinkard as a friend.
“We’ve got some wonderful customers who have been coming to us in Eldon Square since the shop opened – and some of them have brought their children and grandchildren.
“The store staff are marvellous, because they’re not just salespeople, they’re properly trained to give people advice – lots of customers ask us what will go well with their wedding outfit, or a particular dress.”
More than 125 of Mr Farrar’s colleagues and friends including Charles Clinkard and other head office staff helped him celebrate his retirement at party in the Holiday Inn at Jesmond.
He now plans to explore options for his new leisure time, after taking a few holidays.
“I don’t call it retirement – that sounds like a pipe and slippers.” he said.
Margaret Smith, ladies’ department manager, also retired this month and chose to leave on the same day as her manager, having been with the company for 30 years.
Mr Farrar is handing over the keys to the store to James Miller, who was trained by his former boss more than 20 years ago.