The Lost Precinct Advent Calendar – #2: Cavendish Woodhouse

The Times (Furnishing) They Were A Changing

The Ad of Christmas Past

Definitely a cheap and cheerful furniture advert of its time (we at East of the M60 think it dates from 1983 going off the fashions). Cue easily pleased newlyweds and a wizard with a sky blue tuxedo. As if by magic, a carpet, oak effect units and a couple of settees appear in 30 seconds. Their £600 living room question is fulfilled within 30 seconds.

Then, set to the tagline music, our couple (obscured by a red Sale sign) sit down. The “Magic of Cavendish Woodhouse” soundtrack sees a female session singer boom out the tagline, after a yellow caption appears. Its unique selling point of Interest Free Credit on everything was a world away from 38 weeks at £1.50 a week from its parent company.

The Shop of Christmas Past

Cavendish Woodhouse was formed on the 29 January 1937 by Joseph Cohen, a Lithuanian Jewish immigrant. During 1983 (our estimated date of the advertisement), they were owned by Great Universal Stores group. Its boom years began in the late 1950s when shopping on the ‘never never’ became fashionable.

It is also worth noting that Cavendish Woodhouse’s customer database has its roots in one important chapter of retail history. The formation of credit reference agency Experian. They operate from what was Cavendish Woodhouse’s offices in Nottingham. Its UK arm was CCN, Commercial Credit Nottingham. They merged in 1996 with American credit agency TRW IS&S.

Though the company no longer has any shops, it is still trading as a residual company in Hertfordshire with three directors. Some branches became Times Furnishing or Courts shops. Oldham’s branch was on Mumps Bridge, close to where the town’s future Marks and Spencer store is going to be built.

S.V., 02 December 2015.

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