FAMILY-run independent department store Austins is marking its 100th anniversary this week.

The Newton Abbot store, which is the largest independent retailer in the south west, is celebrating this milestone with a ten per-cent off sale on Friday, March 1, through to Saturday, March 2.

David Austin, the third generation of the family to head the retail empire, says he is all too aware of the importance his business plays within the community. 

He said: ‘We are terribly aware that we are an important part of the community, and I don’t mean important in that we are important, we are only the custodians, rather that Austins is important to the community.

’The most important thing about any business, and our business especially, is the people within the business.

‘We have great people working for us and working with us. We all work well together, we are very much a family business.’

100 years young for Newton Abbot department store
Austins turns 100-years-old on Friday, March 1. (Steve Pope / MDA)

It was 1924 when Robert Charles Austin set up the original drapers store which grew into the Austins of today, encompassing five stores and expanding to sell furniture, carpets, homewear, children’s toys and sportswear. 

Its fortunes were boosted when the town’s House of Fraser branch closed in the 1980s giving Austins the chance to take on some of its rivals brands, customers and staff, helping to double sales the following year. 

Now with an estate of four buildings totalling 60,000 square feet of sales space, its workforce is one of its assets. 

Some of the full and part-time staff have been with the company for more than 20 years.

The original Courtenay Street store where it all began is now a Grade II listed building and a major landmark in the town centre. 

A special commemorative tote bag full of specially-made items sporting a vintage Austins logo will be handed out to the first 100 customers on March 1. 

These items will be available to purchase.

Over the coming months, there will be offers, competitions, raffles and a ‘shopping festival’ in September.