The History of Cain of Heswall

7th July 1957 John (Jack) Cain with his wife Gladys and son Kenneth opened their Gentleman’s outfitters in Heswall. It had until that time been an outfitters owned by Mr Cheadle from Ormskirk.
Jack had previously been a manufacturer’s agent selling clothing to retailers in Lancashire, Cheshire and the Potteries. His son Kenneth had done the same job but covered the whole of Scotland from their home on Wirral. They sold their home and bought the freehold on Castle Buildings in the centre of Heswall.
The shop area was just 300 square feet







Jack continued his travels while the business was securing its footing, after 12 months he joined the business full time and doubled the size of the selling area to cope with the demands of the new style of retail business.
Brands that could be seen on the shelves would have been Sumrie Suits, Van Heusen, Viyella and Vantona shirts and the first knitwear house to support Cain of Heswall was Kilspindie of Scotland. Kenneth always said “as long as Kilspindie are trading there will always be a place for them in our shop”.
1966 saw a major development to the size of the showroom, doubling again to enhance the Suiting and clothing department that the business was being known for. Many things outside of one’s own control can affect how business is done, such as the removal of retail price maintenance (RPM) later called Recommended Retail Price (RRP) this was to create a free market economy so businesses can charge what they like.
Styles of the late 1960’s through to mid 1970’s were more famed for the excesses of Flared trousers peardrop collared Shirts and Fairisle knitwear (we can all make mistakes). 1971 saw the introduction of decimalisation to our currency, now only 100pence to the pound. For the new generation perhaps this was easier to cope with. 1973 saw the end of Purchase Tax and the introduction of Value Added Tax (VAT) at 10%. Later that year saw the restricted use of Electricity. The shop and many others of the time used candles and Gas lanterns to illuminate their stock. Today that would be a health and safety nightmare.
February 1974 Jack passed away and Kenneth stepped up to take control of the business full time.
1st April 1974 saw Heswall move from Cheshire to Merseyside, at the same time it moved from the Wirral Urban District Council to Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council. Jack Cain had stood as a councillor under the old Wirral Urban District Council for the Pensby ward.
In the late 1970’s saw the winter of discontent and the increase of VAT to 15%.
The 1980’s saw the styles of clothes change to big shoulders on jackets and trousers with pleats. Pierre Sangan Knitwear was very popular and it would be seen regularly on television on programs such as Question of Sport, with Emlyn Hughes always sporting the new colour of the week. Carter and Honorbilt Trousers were a massive success for the firm with Louis Phillipe Shirts always hitting the mark.
Social upheaval of the 1980’s left many areas scarred but allowed for regeneration. The Falkland’s war focussed the nation again.
Andrew Cain joined the firm in September 1984. Whilst learning his trade he attended many trade training courses and seminars. One specifically was the catalyst to end the Boys formal and casual clothing department and replace it with an enlarged School uniform selection for both Boys and Girls schools. The business had searched for some years for a computerised stock control system, doing away with the many stock books. A fellow retailer in South Wales had developed such a system and it was installed in 1988.
30th January 1990 Gladys passed away at the age of 90, She had been a driving figure in the business and was well known in the local community. Andrew became a Director and joined his father in the running of the business.
Yet again world events shaped the way things happened, the demolition of the Berlin Wall, this opened the trade both East and West, German companies that had traded with the UK could now source products in the old Eastern bloc, and in the UK VAT raises to 17.5%.
In 1991 Andrew was married to Susan Coates.
In 2000 Nufocus developed the first web site for Cain of Heswall, providing a Global advertising platform to show off what the business had to offer. The school uniform section had grown to such a degree that plans were put in place to develop the building further. In January 2005 the business relocated temporarily to 64 Telegraph Road whilst their unit in Castle Buildings was demolished and a 2 storey custom designed store was built. During the relocation period the acquisition took place of a local Sports business “Sport and Dance Wise”. This gave the opportunity in July when the construction work had finished, to offer a one stop shop for all Schoolwear requirements, both day and sports kits. sport and dance here
In 2008 Kenneth retired to look after his wife Pat, who was in the early stages of Dementia, so they could have more time together. The business was left in the capable hands of Andrew. Along came the new advertising medium of having many Social media platforms. Facebook was started with the help of Summer staff member Rachel. 2008 was also the start of the world financial crisis.
Development still continued in 2015 when the next door shop became vacant when Johnsons the cleaners vacated the property. Andrew being a great believer of “a town needs what it doesn’t have” then opened a shoe shop. It had been over 10 years since the last shoe shop owner retired from the town, so he thought it would be complimentary not only to Cain of Heswall but to the Ladies clothing stores in Heswall. George, Andrew’s son was able to see first-hand how a new venture was shaped, whilst he was still at school.
In February 2016 Patricia passed away whilst in a nursing home. Susan stepped up to the role of Company Secretary to assist Andrew in the running of the now multi-faceted company.
George Cain joined the firm in February 2018 having had previous experience at other retail businesses, one in Shirley, Birmingham and a large department store in Chester.
August 2018 saw a growth of the business but also the loss of Kenneth at the age of 91 as he passed away at the end of the month. The last of the Founders.
In 2019 our Shoe shop relocated to the Curve on Telegraph Road Heswall.
Cain of Heswall are great believers in supporting not only their local community, but also trade bodies.
Rotary International in Heswall and Mid-Wirral, Rotaract, Inner Wheel, Heswall Chamber of Trade then Heswall & District Business Association having held positions of Chairman and President. Drapers, Menswear Association, British Shops and Stores, British Independent Retail and the Schoolwear Association, are but a few that the Cain family have been involved with.