End of an era for Norwich shop owner

Geoff Curran, right, retiring after 34 years from the Cigs and Papers newsagents, Exchange Street, w

Geoff Curran, right, retiring after 34 years from the Cigs and Papers newsagents, Exchange Street, with the new owner Dev Godhania. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: Archant 2013

A packet of 20 cigarettes cost about 50p when Geoff Curran started his tobbaconist and newsagents nearly 35 years ago in Norwich city centre.

Mr Curran has sold Cigs and Papers opposite Jarrold in Exchange Street and now plans to play more golf in his retirement.

The 62-year-old took over the business, then a part of Lamberts, a well-known chain of tobacconists, in July 1978. He was then working as an office manager for Thomson and Joseph, which is still in business in Plumstead Road, Norwich.

Mr Curran, who lives off Ketts Hill, said: 'I was looking for a change and the opportunity presented itself. I sold everything I owned, and that was not screwed down, to buy it. I changed the name to Cigs and Papers soon after I took it on. There have been many changes in my time. The government put duty on tobacco as an easy way of earning revenue. When I first moved in, Imperial Tobacco had launched Lambert and Butler cigarettes. They were then priced 50p for 20, and they are now £7.19 for 20.'

The shop, which is a main distributor in Norfolk for specialist cigars and loose tobacco, has attracted thousands of customers over the years, and Mr Curran said he would miss them most. He added: 'A lot of our customers have been coming in for years. We have told some of them that I've left, but not all. I will miss the staff and customers in particular, but it will allow me to play a bit more golf and just take things a bit easier. I will also enjoy more time travelling abroad.'

Mr Curran was treated to a surprise leaving do at the nearby Wine Press in Guildhall Hill, which he said had been his unofficial office for many years. His replacement as owner, Dev Godhania, who lives near Costessey, runs several stores across East Anglia. He said he would keep the shop's name, and added: 'Geoff has served the public very well in the area for many years and we expect to do the same. The business will remain as a specialist tobacconist and we will continue to sell newspapers and snacks as well.'

The newsagent was sold through the Ipswich office of national business agents, Christie + Co, whose associate director Melvyn Eke said: 'Geoff Curran's naturally friendly outlook brought him strong customer goodwill over his ownership of Cigs and Papers.'