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Director bids goodbye to family firm in Holt after lifetime’s service

Anthony Baker has retired after 44 years as a director at Bakers and Larners in Holt. Pictures: David Bale

Anthony Baker has retired after 44 years as a director at Bakers and Larners in Holt. Pictures: David Bale

Archant

He’s credited with saving the family business from being sold in the 1970s - and Anthony Baker has finally retired after 44 years as a director at Bakers and Larners in Holt.

Anthony Baker has retired after 44 years as a director at Bakers and Larners in Holt. Pictured with his wife Vivienne outside the store. Pictures: David Bale Anthony Baker has retired after 44 years as a director at Bakers and Larners in Holt. Pictured with his wife Vivienne outside the store. Pictures: David Bale

The 85-year-old is the seventh generation of the family to have run the business stretching back to John Baker who started the ironmonger’s shop in the town in 1770. It’s the longest trading independent department store in Norfolk.

Anthony Baker was chairman of the CT Baker group, named after his great-grandfather Charles Thomas, between 1976-9 and again from 1987-94.

When he retired he was the longest serving director in the family history.

And his influence helped turn the firm from having 15 employees in 1973/4 and a turnover of about £185,000 to today when there are 300 employees and the turnover is approaching £25m.

Anthony Baker has retired after 44 years as a director at Bakers and Larners in Holt. Pictures: David Bale Anthony Baker has retired after 44 years as a director at Bakers and Larners in Holt. Pictures: David Bale

He said: “I’m 85 and I felt that running a forward looking company with me that age would not be appropriate.”

Back in the 1970s he was instrumental in saving the firm, which was plagued by family squabbling.

He added: “I felt it would be such a pity to sell it. The family decided to stop squabbling and to stick together in the future. And it’s been that way ever since. I have never heard of any member of the family, who’s a shareholder, who wanted to get out.

He added: “I grew up with the firm. I remember my mother taking me shopping just before the war and me leaning over the wooden counters. The fascinating thing about the firm is that it had a lady chairman from 1905-43, and during that time most of the board was female.”

'Jacko', formerly Charles John Morton Baker, the father of curent MD, Michael Baker, handing over to his nephew, Anthony Baker - sixth to seventh generation - as chairman in 1976. Pictures: David Bale 'Jacko', formerly Charles John Morton Baker, the father of curent MD, Michael Baker, handing over to his nephew, Anthony Baker - sixth to seventh generation - as chairman in 1976. Pictures: David Bale

Born in Sheringham, he attended Gresham’s school in Holt, then national service. He went to Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and wore the tie with pride when we met. After studying at Cambridge he worked for Fladgate solicitors in London, which he later ran.

He and his wife Vivienne live in West Runton and have been married 59 years.

“She’s been tremendous for me,” he said. “She was born in Lusaka, Northern Rhodesia, and had a holiday home in East Runton.”

They have two children and four grandchildren.

A former captain and president of Sheringham Golf Club, he’s now playing golf three times a week.

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