Store marks 65th year with online investment

Glasswells staff celebrate 65 years trading.
Glasswells staff celebrate 65 years trading.
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A COMPANY which has been trading in Bury St Edmunds since 1946 is looking well into the 2020s as it celebrates its 65th anniversary.

Glasswells is still a family owned and run business and maintains an ethos of caring for its staff as well as ensuring it has a strong business model.

Glasswells staff celebrate 65 years trading. MD Paul Glasswell.

Glasswells staff celebrate 65 years trading. MD Paul Glasswell.

The 65th year will see the company invest £50,000 in expanding its website with an improved online offer where customers will be able to browse and purchase 2,000 or more items.

It is also launching a new computer-led carpet estimating system where customers can see in their own homes what products are available, plan their flooring and obtain an instant costing.

Leslie Glasswell – grandfather of current managing director Paul – began with a small furniture shop in Brentgovel Street, Bury. Over the years it has grown, with the opening of its flagship store in Newmarket Road in 1992 and a new shop in Ipswich as well as stores in Haverhill and Saffron Walden.

The company also operates a removal business and has a major furniture warehouse at the Suffolk Business Park. It employs a total of 280 people.

Trading in its 65th years has not been without challenges as the economic squeeze has tightened.

Paul, 53, said: “Trading is as difficiult now as it’s even been. Unfortunately, this, with VAT going up, tax issues and inflation, the public have less money when they are being asked to pay more. I would say we are finding it a tighter market in 2011 compared to 2009 and 2010.”

On competition from online trading he said: “It is easier as people can research more than in the past, they are better informed and can buy from further afield and so we have to be sharper and better.”

Speaking about Glasswells’ recipe for success he added: “We try to look after staff where we can and try to make sure we know what’s going on on a day to day basis. We’re still a business and have to run that professionally, but we like to think we offer a more caring approach and that can give us the edge over national companies with managers.”

There are 70 names on the store’s long service board who have all served 20 years and received the traditional gold watch for their service. Three were awarded last year.

“The public like to see familiar faces and like to feel they are getting personal service and that element has stood us in good stead,” he added.

Celebrations for the 65th have been slightly lower key than those for the company’s 60th but Paul is looking to the future with celebrations for the 75th and beyond.