Leader & Watt Ltd – A brief history

Established in 1931, Leader & Watt in 2017, is one of the oldest remaining Palmerston North retail business trading under the same name. Founded by Electricians Horace Cecil Watt (‘Hoppy’ or ‘Hop’) and Syd Leader with the rear of Horace’s mother’s garage at 8 Carroll Street as their base they cycled around Palmerston North looking for any building alterations.

Enthusiasm, perseverance, and determination to succeed began to pay off and the bicycles were put aside and motor cycles with black sidecars emblazoned with yellow lettered “Leader & Watt – Everything Electrical” were used. Leader & Watt soon gained a reputation for being competent electricians with fair charge out rates and work became more consistent. They purchased several 1928 Model T Ford Trucks and shifted out of 8 Carroll Street to Rangitikei Street where they shared premises with an undertaker.

Another two changes in premises in Rangitikei Street saw Leader & Watt settle into premises at 130 Rangitikei Street, still on the eastern side, premises which would become their base for the next 40 years.

Leader and Watt History

The company now employed extra staff. Syd looked after the electrical contracting side and overseeing electrical installations. Hop took responsibility for the electrical servicing, repairs, buying, office and the retail shop.

Hop Watt early in the company’s history realized that by purchasing in quantity at more competitive price resulted and reflected in what the customer was required to pay. Leader & Watt joined with other major retailers and formed a buying group and this practice continues into the 21st century with the Company’s associated with the 100% Buying Group. In August 1978 the company moved across the road to its current site Rangitikei 157-165 to Street to and the many divisions were brought under on roof. Retail shops were opened in Foxton, Feilding, Marton (1983) Dannevirke (1984) and Levin (1986) created a multi store organisation which had visibility and buying power and to ensure the company’s stability into the future.

Leader & Watt have trained and qualified servicemen continually on the road meeting the needs of customers. Following the sale of a new appliance, Leader & Watt deliver, unpack, install, demonstrate and take away the packing and the old appliance for recycling.

In 2010 the contracting section was sold and now trades under the name LWE Electrical.