Landmark Ashburton store Todds sold to Timaru family

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Landmark Mid Canterbury fashion business Todds of Ashburton has been sold to the Preen family of Timaru in what is seen as a vote of confidence in the local economy.
Owners Tony and Christine Todd said the sale also included their second store, TCR – The Clothes Rack, also on East Street, Ashburton.
The Preen family own the Miss Timaru stores in South Canterbury and a fashion label.
All staff will stay and be offered new contracts and Mr and Mrs Todd will stay on as managers.
‘‘From a customer’s perspective, you will notice little change,’’ Mr Todd said.
‘‘It’s a good fit for them (the Preens) to add Ashburton to their trading arm. We have had a strong working relationship with the Preen family over many years, which extends to a personal level,’’ he said.
The deal was brokered over a weekend away and took about 18 months to put together.
The stores will trade under the same name and offer men’s and women’s fashion, however the lingerie will be phased out by February as it did not fit with the new owner’s business model.
Todds has been part of Ashburton for 96 years, and the sale will be completed in February next.
The link between the Todds and Preens is strong. Second generation owner Tony Preen has a reference written for him by A H Todd which describes Tony Preen’s grandfather working for him.
Todds Drapery was incorporated in 1920 after A H Todd bought out Barretts Ltd. He had worked for Barretts since 1914.
That store was where the BNZ is now (next door to Todds) and three of A H Todd’s sons worked for the firm – Arch, Ray and Les.
In 1938 the present store was opened and changed from being a general drapery to a fashion store specialising in the ‘‘medium to higher’’ end of the market.
Tony joined the company as a 16-year-old junior and he and wife Christine took over management of the business when Tony’s father, Les, retired.
Mr Todd said the buy – at a time when several East Street stores were closed – was a vote of confidence in Ashburton and its economy.
He could recall when there were five clothing stores in the same block, including Farmers, Todds, and Leo Cooper.
Mr Todd said he wanted as a teenager to be a chef, but went instead to the family business.
Christine said working at Todds was ‘‘almost part’’ of the marriage agreement.