The community of Cirencester are very familiar with the Gardiner Haskins name, after all it has been in their town for 41 years. How much do you know about where Gardiner Haskins came from?
Where did we start?
The beginnings of Gardiner Haskins as we know it today start back as far as 1825 in Bristol as a small blacksmith and ironmongery business. In 1893 the company was registered as a limited company under the name Gardiner Sons & Co Ltd. In 1958 the company moved to the Broad Plain Site adjacent to our Gardiner Haskins Interiors Store in Bristol. This is where the retail store model started to take shape as the Gardiner Haskins Cirencester we know today. In 1971 JH Haskins Furniture and Carpets were introduced and the company then traded as Gardiner Haskins. Gardiner Haskins in Bristol restructured in 2010 and became a destination showroom for Bathrooms, Kitchens and Beds. Back in 1978 the parent company, Carlton Industries wanted to expand their retail group. They considered options in Hereford, Barnstable, Chippenham and Gloucester before settling on the Cirencester premises.
Before it was Gardiner Haskins
The site which Carlton Industries found was previously occupied by Steel’s Car Showroom and Workshops leaving a big empty shell for them to fill. The Gardiner Haskins staff entrance and offices used to be home to The Bull Inn pub. Being an old building it is full of ghost stories. This part of the building had the floor level altered so it was rumoured that ghosts walked around 1m off the floor.
Becoming Gardiner Haskins
The 3-month project to overhaul the store was led by Tony Allen, this included changes to the flooring, lighting, heating, windows, and doors which has been partially started by a super market chain before they pulled out. A party was held to celebrate the opening of the brand-new store for staff, local dignitaries, and the directors. Gardiner Haskins was at the forefront of Home Improvement Centres as we know them today. They provided Cirencester with a one stop shop for all home improvement needs with free parking, a retail format which still stands today.
Gardiner Haskins Over the Years
In 1989 following a management team buyout from the parent group, Gardiner Haskins returned back into a fully independent family business once again. Throughout our 41 years on the Cirencester High Street Gardiner Haskins have had to face many challenges and constantly evolve to meet the needs of their customers. We stock top brands to ensure their customers are getting the best quality while trying to keep our prices competitive. Staff at Gardiner Haskins have often worked for the company for many years, Heather Arthurs who is a manager at Gardiner Haskins joined the company in 1980. In 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Gardiner Haskins closed their doors not knowing when it would reopen for the first time in 40 years. Steve Whitcombe, Retail Director says, “With all that was going on it was the right decision to close our doors. It was not a decision we made light-heartedly, but the right decision for the wellbeing of our staff. When we reopened in June it was obvious we had been missed by our Cirencester customers who have supported us since. We have had to put procedures in place we had never dreamed of such as one-way systems, marshalls on the door and mask wearing in store. With the news of larger companies needing to close stores permanently we are pleased to say we have survived and remain positive for our future in Cirencester.”
Some images in this blog have been kindly provided by Robert Heaven. Robert Heaven uses the Wilts and Glos Standard archive to share photos with thousands of people on the Old Ciren Facebook Page.