It all began in 1928 when William David Coe opened up the first Coes shop on Norwich Road in Ipswich, with a stock value of just £100. He sourced typical menswear such as tweed jackets, worsted jackets and shirts with detachable collars.
Coes has always prided itself on offering a wide range of quality clothing and that ethos remains today, as does the commitment to providing high levels of service and customer care.
David Coe joined the business and took on the reins at the age of 18 after his father died. He was determined to make it work and set about acquiring properties in the area adjacent to the shop and in the streets behind it to create more retailing and storage space.
David has now retired but can still be seen in the office or floorwalking in our Ipswich store.
Our first major redevelopments were to create extra space by gutting all the properties behind the shop creating a display workshop and more storage space.
Later on we took over a couple more properties adding a new shop front and extending the ground floor. We gradually took ownership of houses down the road on St. Matthew's Place, developing an office and even more storage space.
Further down the line, we demolished several houses on Orford St, which is adjacent to the shop, to expand the car park and purchased a property on Newson Street to house the display workshop and warehouse.
Our first venture out of Ipswich was to Felixstowe. We took over a local business and ran it under its original name, Gardner's for a few years, before bringing it fully under the Coes umbrella. Later on, we acquired and relocated to a bigger shop right in the heart of the town and our business continues to thrive there today.
Our next move was to Lowestoft. We snapped up the opportunity to purchase and renovate a recently closed menswear business which originally sold oilskin fisherman smocks and other sailor's outfitting. We continued to sell to this niche local market and fishing community, however the fishing industry declined and we moved on to introducing what we knew best - suits and shirts!
In 2000, we moved to a larger premises.
In 1970, we opened our third branch in Beccles. However, it seemed that the residents of Beccles preferred to travel to nearby Norwich and Ipswich for their clothes shopping so unfortunately, we took the decision to close the business in 2012 after 40 years of serving this town.
In 1979, we decided to move South of Ipswich for the first time and opened our fifth branch in the centre of Dovercourt. We gave the premises a renovation and modernised the property.
Unfortunately, the town centre was hit with a decline in footfall when two retail parks opened nearby. We were forced to make the decision to close the business in 2013 and the staff moved to our Ipswich flagship store.
Ipswich Flagship Store Expansion
In the late 1970's and early 1980's, we had four new builds added to our existing Ipswich store. This created a whole new first floor and extra space towards the back of the shop on the ground floor. A new top floor was built in two phases which house our Hirewear department and offices.
Our second venture into Essex was in Maldon and this became our sixth branch under the Coes umbrella. The shop sits right in the heart of the town and over the years, we have continued to refurbish and extend the sales area. The Maldon branch has been trading since 1987 and it remains a very successful branch of Coes.
William Coe joined the business in 1997 and took over the reins as Managing Director the following year. He has been responsible for some exciting ventures such as the £1.5M refit and redevelopment of the Ipswich store, a significant expansion of Golding in Newmarket and moving our Felixstowe branch into the town centre.
Under William's leadership, the business continues to evolve and grow.
Golding of Newmarket
In 1998, we acquired Golding of Newmarket. Golding was founded in 1856 and is intricately linked to the town's racing heritage. Upon purchasing the business, we refurbished the shop and refreshed the range of product that was being offered. Over the years, we have made three substantial extensions incorporating outbuildings and a yard at the back.
Golding clearly illustrates how each of our shops has a distinct feel and range chosen for local customers. We hire out more formal wear in Newmarket than any of our other shops, including plenty of top hats and tails - perfect for a race day!
Lowestoft Branch Relocation
In 2000, we moved our Lowestoft branch into a larger premises and offered a range of menswear with departments including suits, shirts, knitwear, trousers and jeans, shoes, coats and jackets and gifts and accessories. Unfortunately, due to frequent roadworks in the area and Lowestoft being a challenging environment to trade in, we ceased trading in early May 2019 after 50 years of serving the town.
Extension of Ipswich Flagship Store
We undertook a large extension of 9000 square feet in the area of adjacent shops. The contemporary glass structure houses our offices as well as our Womenswear department which we launched back in 2002. Additional space was also created enabling us to introduce a new Outsize department and other department refits.
Goddards of King's Lynn
We stepped into North Norfolk in 2004 when we purchased Goddards in King's Lynn. Like Golding, it was an independent family-run business and its criteria fitted our portfolio. We continue to trade under its original name and provide customers with a range of high quality, designer clothing and formal wear that has always been part of its offering.
Coes Website Launched
We have been selling online since 2008 and our online sales are thriving. As we are essentially competing globally, this makes it all the more important that we source unique products that aren’t available from the online giants. We offer the same excellent “above and beyond” customer service online as we have in-store and have racked up an incredible portfolio of reviews on Trustpilot.
More Development to the Ipswich Flagship Store
To bring the old storefront in line with the 2002 extension, and to lay the foundations for a further potential upper floor, we undertook a major structural change to the old fronts. Large foundation holes were dug throughout the building and we removed as many walls as possible to open up the space. This dramatically improved our street presence, with a beautiful black stone facing, larger windows and an airier feel to the shop.
Loyalty Program & EPOS Introduced
The introduction of an EPOS system marked the end of the hand-written receipts we had used since 1928. It was a huge project but we can now track sales and manage stock much better, which ultimately improves customer service.
David Coe celebrates 60 years of service
Although retired, David Coe is frequently seen in the Ipswich store, Maldon branch or Golding in Newmarket, meeting and greeting customers.
To mark 60 years in retail, David has written a book, Reflections of a Shopkeeper, which you can read online.
We have evolved with time and taken on major redevelopments and expansions, the introduction of new departments and a large growth on staff, but we will always continue to offer quality, service, choice and value to our customers.
You will find knowledgeable staff and exceptional customer service in all of our three Coes shops in Ipswich, Felixstowe and Maldon, Goddards in King’s Lynn and Golding in Newmarket, as well as shopping online via our website. We constantly develop our website to offer our customers a great shopping experience without them having to leave the comfort of their home.
A Third Generation Family Business
Unlike many independents we are a thriving enterprise that is always looking to expand and improve our facilities. Our flagship store on Norwich Road, Ipswich continues to grow and now covers over 36,000 sq ft. Throughout the group you will always find something being added, decorated, or improved. We also enjoy offering our customers new ideas and services. With this in mind, we have either relocated our shops to larger premises, or expanded into adjoining sites. The net result is to provide our visitors with an enhanced shopping experience.
Offering Quality, Service, Choice and Value are the cornerstones of Coes and as long as we remember that, we are confident that our customers will stay with us and our business will continue to develop.
What makes us special?
With our excellent, knowledgeable and friendly staff we can offer exceptional customer service. We aim to make shopping at Coes a pleasurable and personal experience. You’ll get the same exceptional service whether you shop online with us or come into any one of our stores. By following fashion and identifying trends and maintaining trusting relationships with our suppliers, we have been able to provide a fantastic choice of high quality apparel whilst offering value for choice.
You will find knowledgeable staff and exceptional customer service in all of our four Coes shops in Ipswich, Felixstowe and Maldon, Goddards in King’s Lynn and Golding in Newmarket.