Uncertain times, 1960-1990

A photo of Pratts, two years prior to its centenary

Centenary year

In 1968, Pratts celebrated its 100th year in its current site. The photograph below, taken just two years later is an indication of how far the shop had come in this time.

Surfacing worries

Beginning in the 1970’s, rumours began to circulate about the future of Pratts. Trading was in fact on the increase, but there were several aspects of the store that had the Partnership worried. Firstly, there was the aforementioned issue over expansion and redevelopment. In its current location, neither of these were a viable option.

Isolated

Secondly and more importantly, the location of the store itself was presenting some issues. For Pratts was not in fact in any town centre. The other suburban department store, Bon Marche had already perished for this reason (much to the initial fortuity of Pratts sales figures). The nearest town to the store was Croydon, three miles away. Although this had not proved a problem up until now, a re-development of Croydon could affect Pratt’s performance should customers choose not to travel.

Internal growth creates more pressure

Despite this, Pratt’s position in the Partnership was also under substantial threat from internal growth and development. The relocation of Trewins to a location twice its present size was immanent. John Lewis Brent Cross opened in 1976, and although it was not in Pratt’s backyard, the sheer gulf in modernity, availability and accessibility between the stores meant that customers were prepared to travel there. The announcement in the 1980’s that a branch of the Partnership would finally be built in Kingston-upon-Thames sealed the fate of Pratts. Unable to undergo any of its own rebuilding, there was little alternative for Pratts.

Comments about this page

  • My first paid employment, working as a waiter in the cafe there in 1979. I was atrociously bad at it, could never remember who’d ordered what, or which things I’d already served. Luckily the customers, mostly ladies of a certain age, were very tolerant! I left the same year, to find something more suitable to my lack of organisational talent.

    By Bob Grahame (24/03/2021)
  • I went to Pratts a couple of times in the late 80’s as my mother got a toy there for her Grandson now in his 30’s then.

    It was a lovely building in green and when it closed it took Russell and Bromley across the road it really was the death knell for Streatham.

    I was gobsmacked that bulding was allowed to be demolished and it was not listed.

    The building there now is hideous.

    Future worry for other places that have gone or are soon to lose their John Lewis branch.

    Was a lovely store.

    By Gabriella Jones (14/03/2021)
  • Hi Camilla,
    Thank you for your comment, if you have any questions you would like us to try and answer for you, please let us know at heritage.centre@johnlewis.co.uk.
    All the best,
    Imogen

    By imogen (04/01/2021)
  • Hi
    I would love more information on this as I am Camilla Pratt, aged 50 and George Pratt was my great grandfather.

    Thanks

    By Camilla (09/12/2020)
  • I joined Pratt’s during the 1960s my 1st job since leaving school I trained in kitchen furniture and homewares and went on to enjoy many years in-store This led me on to an entire career in department store retailing

    Well done Pratt’s for setting me on a very enjoyable lifetime in the wonderful world of department stores

    By Robin Ducker (25/08/2019)

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