The company was established by James Henry Leeke in the Rhondda in 1897. He started trading as a traditional builder's merchant selling ironmongery and hardware from the front room of the family home in a small terraced house in Clydach Vale.
Since then Leekes has expanded with a Home Improvements Centre based in Tonypandy opening in the mid-1960s, and department stores opening in Talbot Green (1977), Cross Hands (1984), Melksham (1992), Bedworth (2010), Fenton (2010) Bilston (2011) and Coventry, West Midlands (2012) The company also owns the Vale Hotel Golf and Spa Resort, and Hensol Castle.
James Henry Leeke established Leekes as a blacksmith in Tonypandy in the Rhondda Valley, Wales in 1897. James Leeke initially operated a smithy for sharpening tools at the rear of the house and then opened a small ironmongery business in the front room.
The Leekes business survived the following two decades intact and James’ son Llewellyn took over the business from his father in 1933 at the age of 22. In 1948 Llewellyn bought a larger shop in Dunraven street, Tonypandy which is still trading today. At this time the ironmonger and builders merchant was operated almost entirely by the family.
In the late 60s Llewellyn’s son Gerald joined the business full-time and extended the range at Dunraven street and established kitchen and bathrooms displays. They took over the shop next door for an additional showroom. In 1965 the company turnover had reached £38,000 and the old goods yard station in Trealaw, Rhondda was acquired for expansion, combining the retail premises and builders yard with some car parking.
Leekes bought a site in Talbot Green and opened a store in 1977 labelled as its first “DIY superstore.”
In 2007 eldest son of Llewellyn, David Leeke wrote an account of the development of the Welsh business from the boom in the coal industry, through the Depression and two World Wars to the 21st century.
In 2009 Leekes bought out Midlands based Cole's Home Furnishing thus creating 3 new stores in England.
In 2011 Proposals have been made to have a new store built on the existing site in Talbot Green to coincide with the new town centre scheme which will be located on the current Leekes and Steadler factory sites. The development will also include a supermarket, hotel and cinema, as well as other facilities for residence. The Leekes store, if approved, would be one of the first builds to be completed.
In September 2012 Leekes introduced their new flagship store for the West Midlands in Coventry, the store has a range of sections ranging from kitchens to bathrooms and an upstairs floor decitated to furniture and bedding.
In 2008 Leekes remains a family business with many family members from the fourth generation. They currently have seven large department stores situated in Wales, the South West and the Midlands. Additionally they have a small double glazing outlets in Hereford, Swindon and Thornbury. The store locations:
- Coventry - Junction 3 M6, Coventry, CV6 6PA View Store
- Llantrisant - Cowbridge Road, Talbot Green, Rhondda Cynon Taf, CF72 8XU View Store
- Cross Hands - Business Park, Cross Hands, Carmarthenshire, SA14 6RB View Store
- Tonypandy - Trealaw Road, Tonypandy, Rhondda Cynon Taff, CF40 2NX View Store
- Melksham - Beanacre Park, Melksham, Wiltshire, SN12 8AG View Store
- Bilston - Great Bridge Road, Bilston, Wolverhampton, West Midlands, WV14 8LB View Store
- Hereford - Wyevale Garden Centre, Kings Acre Road, Hereford, HR14 OSE View Store
- Swindon - Blooms Garden Centre, Hay Lane, Near Wroughton, Swindon, SN14 9QN View Store
- Thornbury - Wyevale Garden Centre, Milberry Heath, Wotton Under Edge, Bristol, GL12 8QH View Story
Each Leekes department store is divided into the following departments:
Cabinet Furniture, Upholstery, Bedroom Furniture, Kitchen Furniture, Sound and Vision, Kitchen Appliances, Kitchen and Tableware, Home Accessories, Gifts, Fitted Bathrooms, Bathroom Accessories, Fitted Kitchens, Conservatories, Interior Design Studio, Fire Studio, Fitness Equipment & Leisure, DIY, Garden Living, Building Centre, Fitted Carpets, Decorating and Home Textiles.
The Vale Resort
In 1994, Leekes Retail and Leisure Group took ownership of a golf club in Hensol in the Vale of Glamorgan. This marked the start of diversification of the business into the leisure industry.
The company then built and developed The Vale Resort which comprises a luxury four star hotel, state-of-the-art leisure club, Wales' largest spa and two championship golf courses set in over 650 acres (2.6 km2) of beautiful parkland.
In 2003, the company announced the purchase of the Hensol Castle estate that adjoins the Vale resort. The Estate includes a 17th-century stately home, an historically important mid-18th century landscaped park, a 15-acre (61,000 m2) lake and serpentine pond. The castle is currently being developed into a world class spa hotel.
- Leeke, David (2007). An Iron Monger's Tale. Llandysul: Gomer Press. ISBN 978-0-9556102-0-2
- Leeke, David (2007). An Iron Monger's Tale. Llandysul: Gomer Press. ISBN 978-0-9556102-0-2.
- Brown, John Murray (2012-06-17). "Staycations breathe life into Welsh leisure sectors". ft.com. The Financial Times Limited.