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Colman Wholesale offers new start to former RBS call centre site

00:25 17 October 2012

Former RBS building bought by Colman Wholesale. Guy Gowing, right, with William Colman. Photo: Bill Smith

Former RBS building bought by Colman Wholesale. Guy Gowing, right, with William Colman. Photo: Bill Smith

Bill Smith

A family stationery business is set to breathe new life into the former One Account call centre on the outskirts of Norwich.

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Colman Wholesale, which is part of the family-run Colman Group, has bought the freehold for the unit in the Pinetrees Business Estate in a deal worth almost £550,000.

It comes after the business, which supplies stationery, toys, greeting cards, party products and seasonal goods has clinched a major deal with leading Norfolk retailer Roys of Wroxham.

The business is currently based in Avian Way in Salhouse Road where it also manufacturers stationary. It will continue to operate across both sites.

William Colman, managing director, said the group, which has a turnover of £6m, planned to move the largest part of its business, the wholesale business, into the 22,462sqft Pinetrees warehouse, which had been empty since One Account owner RBS’s decision to vacate the building last year.

He said the extra space would allow the company to increase its product ranges.

The fifth generation family-owned Colman Group, which has been trading in Norfolk for more than 150 years, also has a litho and digital printing business.

He said it was hard to say how many jobs would be created as a result of the investment in the site, but it would give the company more scope to do business.

He said: “Certainly, there will be room for expansion which is something we plan to do. The purchase of the freehold gives us space to hold more products and stock.”

He admitted that trading conditions were tough at the moment, but he said that people were returning to UK manufacturing.

He said: “We are finding that with a manufacturing base in Norwich we can produce bespoke products.

“We have heavily progressed that side of the business in the last three or four years.”

“China and the Far East is not as cheap as it is perceived with the products we supply.”

The deal was brokered on behalf of Norwich-based Firstpace Construction, which built the warehouse in the 1980s. It was originally occupied by newspaper wholesaler Menzies, before being converted into the call centre for RBS/One Account. The commercial team at Arnolds Keys put it on the market in May.

Guy Gowing, managing partner at Arnold Keys, said: “It is always good to bring empty commercial buildings back into use, because it is good news for the commercial property market, employment and the wider economy.”

“What we are noticing at the moment is that there are some people who are prepared to sell buildings at realistic prices and there are a number of companies that are well funded and are in a position to invest in their business. They are willing to invest their own resources and secure their future in the long term.”

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