CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to EDP Norfolk today CLICK HERE

The Big Idea: Bakers and Larners of Holt

PUBLISHED: 10:25 19 July 2016 | UPDATED: 10:25 19 July 2016

Inside Bakers and Larners of Holt department store

Inside Bakers and Larners of Holt department store

Archant Norfolk 2016

Michael Baker, managing director of Bakers and Larners of Holt, reflects on the history, heart and hopes of this iconic north Norfolk company

Bakers and Larners of HoltBakers and Larners of Holt

Q Please tell us a little about the history of Bakers and Larners.

A In 1732, prior to the Industrial Revolution, Adam Custance started his business in Holt. It was an iron and colour merchant. In 1770 John Baker married Priscilla Custance and bought her uncle’s business. This is where the current C T Baker Group started in the Baker family. It progressed through the generations father to son, until 1905. It then passed to three sisters. As a solicitor C M Baker saw the benefits of a limited liability company and created C T Baker Ltd in 1900, registration number 67886. The company continues in the family, with Michael Baker leading the business today.

Michael Baker, managing director of Bakers and Larners of HoltMichael Baker, managing director of Bakers and Larners of Holt

Q What did you do before becoming managing director of Bakers and Larners?

A I was brought up on a farm in West Beckham. After university, having gained a degree in chemical engineering, I joined constructors John Brown in Portsmouth where I gained chartered engineer status. The call of Norfolk was too great however and I returned in 1973 to work at Bakers. In March 1974 I took over as managing director.

Q Could you tell us about some of the changes you have seen at Bakers and Larners during those years – and in the retail business in general?

A In the past 42 years the business has moved from 17 staff and annual sales of £175,000 to 295 staff and £24m turnover. In 1977 Larners of Holt was acquired; in 1989 R Edmonds & Son of Stalham and North Walsham; in 2003 Betty (Holt) Ltd; in 2007 Budgens of Holt, and in 2013 Budgens of Aylsham. In 1973 we were an old fashioned ironmonger with the Aga dealership for north Norfolk. We had just withdrawn from being an agricultural merchant. At Larners we were a small department store and food hall. There were no computers - there was no internet.

Q The store is at the heart of life in Holt. How important is the town to you personally?

A I can remember the town since the mid-1950s. In those days most, if not all, of the businesses were family-run, few outside managers. The main road came through the centre of town, there was a weekly market. Holt is part of my life. I have been actively involved in the town, representing it as a town, district and county councillor. I have chaired the Chamber of Trade and Commerce, Round Table and Rotary.

Q Recent years have seen the refurbishment of the store. How have you managed to combine the sense of history at Bakers and Larners with the need to compete in a modern retail world?

A We believe it is important that we continue to invest in the business. Recently we have started to upgrade areas of the department store – perhaps slightly overdue. Customers like the uniqueness of the store and the product we sell. This is supported by the store architecture of nooks and crannies, giving us an opportunity to ensure there is always a surprise waiting around every corner. We pride ourselves in listening to our customers and looking to offer what they want – good quality, choice and service.

Q How important to the business are the people on the floor?

A All the team at Bakers and Larners are important to the business and play a vital role in our success. I believe we have some of the best retail sales staff in East Anglia.

Q What is the Bakers and Larners’ “Big Idea” for taking forward shopping in Holt and beyond?

A We are very proud of the special place we hold in the town. The independent stores and businesses make Holt a unique shopping experience, unrivalled anywhere in East Anglia. We know the internet gives us the opportunity of a broader reach and allows us to service those customers not fortunate to live close to Holt. However, I do think the shopping experience that can be offered on the high street, if done well, cannot be replicated online. Get them both working together and then you really start to see results. So no revolutionary big idea - we will continue with our basic principles of service, choice and quality. w

Bakers and Larners department store, Market Place, Holt; 01263 712244;

home furnishing centre, High Street, Holt; 01263 710498;

www.bakersandlarners.co.uk

More from Homes & Gardens

Mon, 16:38

We look inside a beautiful north Norfolk home which looks even more fabulous at this time of year

Read more
December 2018
Monday, November 19, 2018

We take a look inside a handsome new home in the historic town of Reepham

Read more
November 2018
Wednesday, October 31, 2018

If you’re looking for a beautiful bespoke kitchen in your home, here are some of the best Norfolk has to offer

Read more
Tuesday, October 9, 2018

A converted Victorian Temperance hall in Cromer has made a spectacular family home

Read more
October 2018
Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Welcome to one of the most handsome small towns in the country

Read more
September 2018
Wednesday, September 26, 2018

As we head into Autumn, the change in season is all around us. From the leaves on the trees turning burnt orange and fiery red, to dark mornings and nights bookending our days. As we put the clocks back an hour to battle the darkness, here’s some top tips on how you can keep your home warm and costs down this Autumn.

Read more
Friday, August 31, 2018

Rural energy provider, Calor, gives some top tips for homeowners wanting to make their houses cosy and warm in time for the colder months.

Read more
Monday, August 6, 2018

We take a peek inside a much-loved family holiday home in Cromer

Read more
August 2018
Monday, July 30, 2018

It is one of the most sought-after areas in Norwich - so what makes it so special?

Read more
July 2018
Monday, July 30, 2018

Tony Hall discovers an exciting new house with spectacular sea views across the wild Norfolk marshes to savour

Read more
July 2018

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy


Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Like us on Facebook

Local Business Directory

Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search