Recorded: 13 April, 2018.
Interviewer: Simon Johnson
Abstract: Simon Johnson.
Interview with past employees of the PDC Department Store/Co-op –
Brian Yaxley, Royden Williams, Barbara Woodward, Vern Lumley, Alan Maw
Location: Wharite Room, P.N. City Library.
Notes: Recording slightly compromised by acoustics of the room and varying distance of interviewees from recorder.
Recording 1 of 3
0.52 At what point did you start working (not necessarily at PDC)? Vern – hardware business at 17; Barbara –DENTAL NURSE before PDC; Royden – PDC, 16; Alan - joined PDC after coming from UK in 1973. Previously in merchant navy and Marks & Spencers. EMIGRATED to NZ when one of his wife’s friends planted the idea.
5.06 Previous education? Royden – left school at 15, “ended up at the PDC”; Barbara – started at PDC in 1970, had 3 children so worked part time. Previously trained as a DENTAL NURSE (not school dental nurse); Alan – basic secondary education, factory work before joining merchant marine.
9.04 Introduction to PDC and job interview. Brian – interviewed by ? COSGROVE and TREVOR HENDERSON. Year was 1972; Royden – only remembers INDUCTION COURSE. He started in BOYS WEAR. Year was 1964. Stayed there next 25 years, then moved to MENS CLOTHING and TEXTILES; Barbara – was “permanent part-time” in different departments. Manager was LES GOODWIN. Finally, ‘Buyer’ (i.e. person in charge) of Home and Accessories dept; Vern – Began as staff trainer, then PERSONNEL MANAGER for 10 years, then SALES MANAGER. Talks of “family atmosphere” which made PDC different to other stores. This was because it was a co-operative store with a focus on its customer shareholders, “not initially to make a profit;” Alan – while still in UK one of his NZ contacts passed his letter looking for work to PDC. Later contacts through New Zealand House in London. Came to NZ as assisted immigrant, worked in various departments then became Buyer in Hardware. BRUCE AYERS and PETER MORGAN were Hardware buyers before him.
22.40 Training. All started as sales people except for Vern. ‘Buyers’ were heads of department who bought stock.
24.45 Details of shop assistants – age, gender, All ages, more women than men, except in Hardware and Sports Goods.
26.04 Manager/Staff relations
Brian – “all good” Vern – GORDON BROWN would “scare the daylights out of you.”
27.00 Gordon Brown. Barbara – “he was a bully … if I saw him coming I’d try to hide.” Brian – “Gordon Brown was General Co-op Manager.” Vern - PDC had its own manager. Lists all Co-op stores – butcheries, groceries etc. and Majestic Hotel. Royden – you looked busy if you saw him coming. All staff got on with PDC manager.
30.00 Management structure of PDC. “Pyramid.” Management team included Personnel, Sales and Advertising Managers. Occupied mezzanine floor. Below this were Managers of large departments, then Buyers of other departments. Brian – there was also a Floor Manager. Details of this job. Involved hands on management ranging over all departments, also back-up re SHOPLIFTERS.
33.50 Dealing with SHOPLIFTERS was part of staff training. Procedures for dealing with shoplifters. Shoplifting stories.
42.55 PDC culture. Had to write dockets for shareholders even for small ticket items. Had to arrive on the job 5 minutes before time so as to be at one’s station on time.