It may come as a surprise to some people that Napier has had Sunday shopping in its CBD for 16 years.

But not for businessman and menswear retailer Denis Jeffery. He has withstood the big-brand takeovers and multinationals, recently marking 40 years running family businesses in Emerson St with a particular commitment brand of his own.

"I haven't had a Sunday off for 16 years," he said this week as the New Year's Day shopping crowd thronged on one of biggest and busiest of the year, on a day where once not a shop would have been open.

"You have to," he says, meaning the shop has to open to keep up, and he has to be there.


He makes it up with time off in the down-times, like Monday mornings, but there's an occasional irony.

"Someone asked me in the street the other day if had I retired."

Mr Jeffery started in menswear by working for his father Clyde Jeffery (1974-1983 Mayor of Napier), cleaning windows and delivering parcels on his bike.

He worked for his father at Clyde Jeffery Ltd for a short while before opening his own business, Denis Jeffery Menswear, in 1977, firstly in lower Emerson St (between Dalton St and Clive Square) but moving four years later to the current site.

In 1990 he and brother Tony, who had taken over their father's business at his retirement, joined third brother Bill to combine businesses as three equal shareholders and merge as Jefferys for Men.

Bill Jeffery left the business almost 10 years ago. Tony Jeffery retired in 2016, with plenty to keep him occupied as a Napier city councillor since 2001, sometimes touted as a potential successor to the mayoral office.

And as his wife Janette says - from the counter of her store next-door to the menswear outlet - taking grandchildren to school, doing supermarket shopping and making tea.

For Denis Jeffery it completed the "full circle" from where he started — the dress circle perhaps — but he has no inclination to retire, or travel to any great extent.

He "just loves" going into the shop and serving the customers, with the help of counter sidekick Vaughan Thorburn.

He's seen the street change a lot, from the two-way mainstreet cruise and Friday-night shopping to the pedestrian precinct mall-style, and the influxes which come with such things as cruise visits, Art Deco Weekend and the Mission Concert.

He and Mr Thorburn combined ideas to keep up with the times, introducing worldwide label SUPERDRY and others, showing that labels do count.

"By changing and modernising the labels we know we can now cater for young and the more mature man," he says.

"Why would I want to retire?" he asks, looking out to the busy street on a hot summer public holiday.

"We look forward to many more years in business."