Sweet and sour business news

ONE community's loss is set to become a neighbouring town's gain as a 100-year-old business prepares for a new era.The Needham Market branch of electrical store Stannards will close its doors for the final time this month.

ONE community's loss is set to become a neighbouring town's gain as a 100-year-old business prepares for a new era.

The Needham Market branch of electrical store Stannards will close its doors for the final time this month.

But while the familiar red-lettered sign of the family-run company becomes a thing of the past on the town's high street, the sister shop in Stowmarket is set to flourish.

Trade is being streamlined to a single shop for the first time since the mid seventies when the Needham premises was opened.


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Neville Bensley, who owns the business with his sons Paul and Nick, said: "This is the end of an era but we are looking at it as going in a new direction and by no means a step backwards.

"Stowmarket is a growing town and we are taking the business forward.

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"There is a sense of sadness but by making the move we may be able to expand in the future."

He added: "It's not just us. A lot of other businesses which rely on people walking past have shut down on High Street."

Paul, who works in the Needham branch, said: "We expanded in Needham when it was a fast growing town with lots of potential customers and it worked for years.

"It's only in the last few years retail has become a particularly hard game.

"We cannot compete with the likes of the internet and supermarkets and the red tape and growing expenses have also made life difficult."

The shop will shut on Tuesday, June 22. All the staff will be kept on - including long-serving director

Anthony Cooper who has been with the company for almost three decades.

Needham's shoppers' loss will also become someone else's gain as the family plan to turn the premises into three single bedroom flats.

Paul said: "We don't want to lose the buildings all together and as Needham is still a lovely place to live we have added a second part to our plan."

"We hope to take our customers with us as well. We are counting on them remaining loyal."

The business started in Stowmarket back in 1887 and Neville's father Jack bought it in 1961. The Bensley family extended into Needham Market in 1974 when they took over another well-established electrical firm, Wards.

The size of the shop was doubled in 1980 when it was extended into the former hairdresser's next door. It was added to again in 1997 by moving into the neighbouring old wool shop.

Nick, who runs the Stowmarket shop, said: "We are all very positive about the move. The business is doing really well here and I'm looking forward to working even closer as a family."

When the Stowmarket business was founded in 1887 it was a whitesmiths and metal works. It later specialised in cycles and nursery equipment before moving onto electrical goods

Founder Richard Stannard was from Dunwich. He passed the business onto his daughter and son-in-law, Lorna and Lance Whynes, before the father of current owner Neville Bensley, Jack, bought it in 1961

In the Stowmarket shop is an intact penny-farthing bicycle and Edison-Bell phonograph - left in the shop when the Bensleys moved in

Since the 1980s the cycles and children's equipment and reel-to-reel tape recorders have been phased out to make way for satellite systems, wide screens televisions and computer consoles

Bensley family loyalty does not run as far as football. Paul is an avid Ipswich Town fan while his brother Nick follows rivals Norwich

In the months before Christmas the shop in Needham Market sells an average of nine televisions a week

Neville says his oddest request was in the 1960s when a lady customer asked him where you kept ice in a fridge

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