New era for Norwich DIY store Thorns

PUBLISHED: 12:00 16 January 2013 | UPDATED: 14:34 16 January 2013

Emily Motts, business development manager at Thorns. Picture: Denise Bradley

Emily Motts, business development manager at Thorns. Picture: Denise Bradley


A family-run business with 178 years of history is rebranding its city centre shop and launching a new online sales site.

Thorns DIY, based on Exchange Street in Norwich, is investing £6,000 in redecorating the exterior of its shop and setting up an e-commerce site later this year.

The announcement comes after the firm recently collected two silver awards at the DIY Week trade awards for Retail Communicator of the Year and Hardware Retailer of the Year.

Emily Motts, business development manager at Thorns, said the retailer was exploring new revenue streams after experiencing a difficult year on the high street, with sales of DIY and gardening goods being hit by the wet weather in the summer.

She added: “It has been a tough and challenging year but we are updating the website and we are exploring the e-commerce side.

“We heard at the DIY Week award ceremony how companies were benefiting from going online, so that is something we want to push.

“It will help, but it is also important to go back to old fashioned customer service that goes a long way and the big retailers seem to forget that.

“Because it has been challenging we have had to come up with new ways of thinking.

“People used to go for the higher end of the market when it came to buying tools. Now, they are looking for something mid-range and cheaper.

Speaking about the shop’s performance last year, Miss Motts said: “The DIY trade and gardening trade has been affected by the weather, but so far our sales are on par with last year.

“But we are keen to explore the e-commerce side of the business to see if it can grow and be beneficial – and if it is really successful then we will look to take on more people.”

The company, which employs 20 staff, was established in 1835 and is the last independent DIY store in Norwich.

The business is run by Peter Motts and his two daughters, Miriam Devlin and Miss Motts, who joined in July last year.

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  • I love Thorns. The range is fantastic, you can buy just the quantity you need and the staff are very helpful. I love it's old world charm. Redecorating the outside is fine but don't be tempted to mess around with the rabbit warren inside. I'm not sure about the e-commerce side - it's very difficult to compete with the likes of Screwfix Direct.

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    Rich Hartt

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013

  • Thorns is a very good shop, a walk back in time really, but they should encompass modern technology more, and thus combine the old with the new. This could bring the shop alive.

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    Wednesday, January 16, 2013

  • I shop at Thorn's when in Norwich, as they have a first-class range of goods in all departments, especially Household, Tools and the exceptional variety of hard-to-find things in the Paints Department. I like the "rabbit warren" of it, and the helpful staff, and I hope that it soldiers on and doesn't go the way of Leach's in St. Stephens, which also sold all sort of things now hard to find (but which I want to buy!).

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    T Doff

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013

  • I love this shop, just a shame it don't have parking ,coz I'll stop using wicks etc.

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    Wednesday, January 16, 2013

  • I too love thorns and hope that the online shop helps. Thorn's appeal for me is the customer service which you simply don't get in the big souless diy stores where you are lucky to encounter a staff member unless at the til and they have no knowledge.thorn's staff are really helpful plus the layout of the shop is so quirky!

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    Fluffy Cat

    Thursday, January 17, 2013

  • It should be obvious to anyone running such a company nowadays that they need a major e-commerce outlet. Not only this, but they also need to understand that the experience of shopping is becoming a major factor in getting customers into a store. Just how many additional people would have bought a CD from HMV, instead of going on-line, if there was a chance of meeting the artist involved?

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    Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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