Coventry retail legend is hanging up his tape after more than 50 years

One of the city’s longest-standing independent store owners is looking to the next generation of business owners to keep the city’s high streets alive.

One of Coventry’s most famous tailors will be hanging up his tape measure next year and is looking to the next generation of business owners to keep the city’s high streets alive. 

Business owner and tailor Garry Kirton is retiring next year and moving his business online after setting up one of the city’s longest-standing independent stores and serving countless happy customers.

Garry, who is the owner of First for Men, located on Daventry Road in Cheylesmore, has been providing men with formal wear, bespoke suits and tailoring since 1984 after 22 years as a successful store manager at Hepworth’s, the company that would become Next.

Though the First for Men store will be closing its doors in March 2020, Garry will continue to work as a travelling tailor, as well as running a made-to-measure online clothing store, and has started the search to find a tenant for his soon-to-be-vacant lot.

He said: “I would urge all people to make use of your local high street while it’s still there and keep local businesses thriving.

“The idea of a relationship with your local shopkeepers and business owners is becoming a thing of the past, but it would be great to see some of those values retained by new businesses that are setting up shops.

“Modern shopping habits have moved a lot of high-street sales online, so I will be continuing to run First for Men from my home, whilst being available for private hire tailoring in the region.

“I am hoping to provide the same level of quality and service that my customers have come to expect over the years, simply on a smaller scale.”

Garry joined Hepworth’s in 1962 at the age of 15, gathering a huge amount of industry knowledge and experience across a number of roles and receiving high-level training over more than two decades.

After rising through the ranks at Hepworth’s Leamington Spa store, Garry took over as store manager at the much larger Coventry site, going on to win a number of company-wide sales awards before going solo with First for Men.

Garry added: “I have worked with some fantastic staff during my time at Hepworth’s, and felt that by the time Next took over in the early 1980s, I was ready to take the plunge and set up shop by myself, maintaining some of those classic customer service values which are at the heart of my shop.

“I had a specific set of values that I had picked up during my time at Hepworth’s, and had a desire to keep those traditions going at a time when the high street was becoming very image-conscious.”