Payment by Name-Tag : 1980 through to 1999153
New owner Stanley Cohen entrepreneur
Prestat was acquired by Stanley S. Cohen, a successful entrepreneur with numerous business interests ranging from property development to fine porcelain. The challenges, however, proved extreme. As feared, production of chocolates in South Molton Street was halted shortly before the business moved from its birthplace to the current Piccadilly premises at 14 Princes Arcade.
An attempt was made to open a far larger store in Windsor to compensate for the downsizing of the London shop. However, sales in the Windsor store proved disappointing and it was closed. With no obvious avenue to recovery, a decision was taken to maintain the Prestat shop in Princes Arcade but to take time-out from any further expansion plans.
The shop was well-cared for, enjoying a refurbishment in the early 1990s, but it lacked day-to-day leadership with Stanley Cohen having significantly larger businesses to manage. His other priorities included work for charities, in particular The Duke of Edinburgh Award – for which he was honoured with the Order of the British Empire.
Prestat might have continued happily in this fashion for many years if my half-brother Nick Crean hadn’t taken an interest. Nick remembered the shop from its South Molton Street days and, in particular, a visit he had made as a teenager to buy chocolates. Peggy was serving and Nick, having made his selection, proudly took out his new chequebook – he’d just opened his first bank account – to pay for the goods.
Peggy correctly asked him for a form of identity and Nick looked aghast. The cheque book was the only thing he had except, he then remembered, a school name-tag sown into the back of his shirt. Peggy marched around the counter, pulled his shirt collar down and confirmed the name matched the cheque-book. She accepted payment and sent the young customer on his way.
I cannot think of
any London shop
other than Prestat where
a name-tag would have been
accepted as a form of identity. Good
on Peggy. It was the fondness that this
experience engendered that led Nick to enquire
in June, 1998, whether Stanley Cohen might
consider selling Prestat. With the smell of chocolate
in the air, Nick could feel his cheque book itching
to get out once more.
THE SINGLE EXPERIENCE
THAT LED NICK TO ENQUIRE ABOUT BUYING PRESTAT IN 1998