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The BIG idea

PUBLISHED: 17:44 27 November 2013 | UPDATED: 17:44 27 November 2013

Michelle Jarrold in the new look book department in the Norwich Jarrold store.

Michelle Jarrold in the new look book department in the Norwich Jarrold store. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

Archant Norfolk

How has Jarrold's developed as a family business with such a long history in the county?

Michelle Jarrold in the new look beauty hall at Jarrolds.
PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAYMichelle Jarrold in the new look beauty hall at Jarrolds. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

It has always been essential to stay true to the original credentials of Jarrolds - the printing, stationary and books. It is key to cherish our heritage while developing as a major department store. But the internet has changed the way people shop and we need to embrace the fact that customers will want to shop online. We have invested in our online service and our vision is to become the premier independent department store in the country, and the premier independent online department store.

What challenges is the retail industry facing today?

We are in challenging economic times and the impact of online shopping has been enormous. You can buy anything you like online, so we have to make shopping fun, to ensure people get fantastic customer service and can ask for help and advice, and also to offer something extra – we now have four cafes and restaurants, a personal shopping suite and the Retreat Spa. One of our core, traditional areas of the business is books, but that is a market under huge pressure from online sales and e-readers. It has been hard to let it earn its keep in the premier retail space on the ground floor, so as after a lot of thought, we relocated it downstairs.”

Tell us about the recent £2m developments?

Protecting the heritage of our business is essential, so the new book shop has an original Albion printing press from 1845 in it and some very special wallpaper – designed by a volunteer at the John Jarrold Print Museum, which incorporates the history of printing at Jarrold.

Moving books meant we could reposition ourselves to become more fashion and beauty orientated. We have completely transformed the ground floor, into a spacious, modern beauty hall, with a fine fragrance wall and some of the most renowned brands. I think to get Jo Malone speaks volumes about how our business has grown and evolved. I spent six years trying to persuade them to come to us, to come to Norwich, and it was just so exciting when they agreed.

So Michelle, what is Jarrold’s big idea to take Norfolk forward as a major shopping location?

I like to hope we help give Norwich its heart. Creating The Lanes as a destination area has been a big plus for Norwich, and that, combined with all the big high street names, is fantastic. We are very proud to be different here in Norwich, and with the excellent independent shops we have, we really can offer something unique to visitors. I would much rather have good competition and be part of a vibrant, bustling high street with lots of fantastic stores complementing one another, than be somewhere with lots of empty shops, where people do not want to come.Jarrold’s, 1-11 London Street, Norwich, NR2 1JF; 01603 660661.

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