They’re known locally as the Pet Shop Boys
Twins James and Edward Broadbent are in their element running Honley Pet and Hardware – and the 34-year-old former teachers have become quite a hit with customers since acquiring the business three years ago.
The shop – tucked below other business premises in busy Westgate, Honley – was already something of an institution under its previous owners, Martyn and Linda Sykes.
The brothers had bought items from the shop for their property maintenance firm, Twin Maintenance, which they launched 10 years ago.
Martyn, a former engineer, and Linda, a former dental nurse, took over the unoccupied basement in 1984.
The married couple started a woodwork business, but as other businesses on Westgate closed down, Martyn and Linda decided to fill in the voids.
Despite the shortage of floor space, the couple added a pet supplies section in 1988 and a hardware store in 1992.
When Edward and James heard Martyn and Linda planned to retire after 30 years behind the counter, the Broadbents asked if they could have first refusal on buying the business.
“Martyn was as good as his word,” says Edward. “We’re now in our fourth year and we have been made very welcome.
“People call us the Pet Shop Boys! The shop is very well supported by people in the Holme Valley.”
The basement shop is an Aladdin’s Cave for DIY and pet supplies – stocking everything from light bulbs to dog leads and garden compost to cat treats.
With its low ceilings and cosy corners, it makes for a quirky alternative to the soulless DIY warehouses.
Edward and James haven’t made many changes to the place, although they have extended the level of personal service by introducing a mobile key-cutting service, called Key Solutions, a knife-sharpening service and by offering free deliveries regardless of the value of goods involved.
All the brothers’ business interests come under the Iceberg Group – so called, says Edward, because “there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye.”
James and Edward grew up in Netherton and attended Newsome High School and Greenhead College before studying business management at Liverpool University. Armed with their degrees, they took up teaching – Edward latterly at Huddersfield New College and James at Shelley College – before quitting the classroom to enter the world of business.
While they enjoyed teaching, Edward says: “We wanted to be self-employed, but getting a general business qualification doesn’t mean you can automatically run a business!”
Both brothers had worked at Sainsbury’s in their younger days.
“We enjoyed the retail environment and working with customers,” says Edward. “At the time, we never realised we would end up in retail for ourselves.”
Customers to the hardware and pets store range from DIYers and gardening enthusiasts to commercial operations such as property rental businesses, schools and colleges.
“There are seasonal aspects to the business,” says Edward. “In winter when it snows we sell a lot of snow shovels and sledges.
“In the summer, we sell lots of garden tools. For some reason, we sell lots of washing up bowls and buckets as well.
“We have some very loyal customers. We know a lot of them by name. The customers are one of the best things about this business.”
The shop is open six days a week – with James and Edward working alternate Saturdays to allow each other the luxury of a free weekend.
“We’re open from 8am to 6pm,” says Edward. “During the week, I work from eight to five and James works from nine to six. Our mum, Helen, works on Fridays. Our dad, Stephen, also helped out. He said he’d do a year – and he ended up doing two-and-a-half years.”
James lives close to work in Honley while Edward, his wife Abigail and their two-and-a-half-year-old son Hughie live at Hepworth. When time allows, James is busy renovating his house.
Edward cycles to and from work. “It’s downhill on the way here,” he says. “The way back home is a bit more strenuous.”
Edward and his family enjoy holidays at Aberstoch in North Wales – while the brothers get away from work playing squash at Almondbury High School sports centre in the evenings.
“If we get the chance, we want to take up golf again,” says James. “We both played as juniors.
“We set little targets as rewards for our hard work! One was to buy a powerboat. Next on the list is to buy a holiday home in Wales.”
If they want to enjoy the fruits of their labours, the Broadbents are under no illusions about what that will entail.
“The fundamentals in business are reliability, communication and being honest with people,” says James. It’s pretty simple, really. We think that’s the formula for our success.”
Edward adds: “If I was to offer one tip about business, it’s ‘don’t be greedy’. If people come in for three screws, that’s what we sell them. They don’t have to buy a pack.
“Take a little bit of interest in people.
“This place is unique. People come in here because they feel comfortable. They’ll come in to see our mum on a Friday and stop for a bit of a natter.
“Someone suggested we open a teashop in one of the stock rooms – but we’d never get people out of there!”
Says Edward: “It was always our ambition to be self-employed. We’re both ‘hands-on’ people rather than office-based. Going to university helped build up my confidence.
“Teaching was good because you are thinking on your feet.
“ I enjoyed passing on my experience and enthusiasm to the students. I’ve no regrets about that, it has been fantastic.”
James adds: “The novelty of being twins running a business has worked to our advantage, but we still have to put the hours in. We’re lucky because there are two of us and we trust each other implicitly.”