New chapter for store

A hugely successful menswear store, which sells all over the world from its shop in East Boldon, has expanded as it enters a new chapter.

Thursday, 13th June 2019, 5:00 am
Updated Thursday, 13th June 2019, 10:24 am
Master Debonair expands into next door premises. Owners Simon and Eve Whitaker
Master Debonair expands into next door premises. Owners Simon and Eve Whitaker

Since it was opened in 2016 by husband and wife team, Simon and Eve Whitaker, Master Debonair has gone from being a gamble by the couple to selling world-wide, having a multi-million pound turnover and employing a workforce of 32 people.

Now, in the biggest new development since they opened, they’ve taken over the neighbouring Gordon’s butchers in Station Terrace to expand their offering to meet demand.

Many of the original features of the Victorian building have been retained, including an old butchers’ rack, original ceiling and period hearth in the sympathetic renovation totalling £30,000. There’s even a hidden beer tap for shoppers to find as they browse the racks selling brands such as Marc Darcy, Skopes and Fratelli.

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An original hearth in the period building

The expanded site, which officially opens tonight with a party for invited guests, marks phase 1 of the development, with phase 2, due to start in July, including a renovation of the upstairs rooms to include a private showroom and the space to sell women’s wear.

Simon and Eve were inspired to start the business by Simon’s late father, Bob Whitaker, who was always a sharp dresser and a photo of him now stands pride of place on the mantlepiece in the new shop.

“When we first opened we thought it would just be Simon in the shop with a cup of tea and a newspaper but it’s really taken off,” explained Eve.

“I don’t think people thought a menswear business in East Boldon would work, but it’s very much become a destination place with people coming from all over the country to visit the store. We knew we wouldn’t survive on passing trade.”

An original ceiling was beneath the more modern fixtures

Speaking about what draws people to the village store, Eve said: “We’ve never been about labels, we’ve always been more about fit, price and style. Sometimes men think tailoring isn’t for them, but it’s great seeing them gain confidence from a piece that fits well.”

The new site has given the business the chance to stock more casual wear and well-known brands.