New Aylsham depot for expanding C T Baker builders’ merchants division

06:30 15 March 2013

CT Baker Builders Merchants at Aylsham. Left to right, former general manager John Heal and MD of the CT Baker Group Michael Baker, in the new store.

CT Baker Builders Merchants at Aylsham. Left to right, former general manager John Heal and MD of the CT Baker Group Michael Baker, in the new store. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2013

Expanding builders merchant C T Baker has opened a fourth branch with a new £1m-plus development at Aylsham.

The new depot continues the growth of a business which has roots in the building trade stretching back more than 200 years to 1770 when it opened as an iron and colour merchant in Holt town centre.

Its recent growth began in 1989, when Bakers bought Edmonds’ builders merchants sites at North Walsham and Stalham. Since then the company has relocated the Holt branch to a new depot off the Hempstead Road, built a new Stalham one in a boatshed-style unit in 2006 and upgraded the Walsham branch.

Managing director Michael Baker said the search for an Aylsham site to plug a gap in the map began seven years ago. He praised Broadland District Council for their forward-thinking attitude in allowing the company to build on land just outside the town’s development boundary, but said they had to meet some stringent and expensive sustainability measures including a wood chip boiler and storm water drainage tank.

But the Aylsham unit was state-of-the-art, combining a “dirty” area for materials with an acre of concrete and a shop, and he hoped it would be the envy of other merchants around the county.

The new depot was opened by John Neal from Sheringham who was general manager of the building division until he retired last year to be succeeded by Paul Pamment from Aylsham.

It creates six new jobs and the manager is Will Peck, who was the deputy at Holt.

It meant Baker’s builders merchants branches now employed 32 people, having begun with just two, and had seen £5m worth of investment in today’s prices during the course of the expansion programme.

Building in a recession was always easier because land and construction prices were cheaper and would be ready for the upturn, said Mr Baker.

“It is no good waiting for the upturn to start building or the miss the best bits,” he added.

Bakers operated its builders merchants division from a “retail background” which he said provided a high level of a service.

It accounted for about 30pc of the overall £22m turnover at the C T Baker Group, which also included the Baker and Larners department store (30pc) and Budgens supermarket (40pc). The company employs 250 people in all.

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