Glimmer of hope in the retail market as investors show confidence in Diss furniture business

A furniture and flooring business has provided a glimmer of hope in a beleaguered retail sector with news it could reopen a Norwich store after clinching investment from British-based furniture makers.

The chairman of Wallace King Interiors, which currently has shops in Diss and Cambridge, spoke of his plans at a time when many high street shops are in trouble.

Yesterday Suffolk-based Tobar, which owns Hawkins Bazaar followed D2 Jeans into administration.

Wallace King Interiors chairman Michael Wolton said the new shop would not be in the same Botolph Street location as the previous Norwich store, which closed after a roadworks programme affected trade.

He said trade in that area was also affected by the economic downturn, so the store was looking to reopen in another part of the city.

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Mr Wolton said that investors liked the company and thought it had a good future because it had been in Norfolk a long time.

He said: 'Money will be provided as and when it is required and the aim is to help the Wallace King brand develop throughout Norfolk and the investors will bring their experience in database marketing and marketing technology to help the company.

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'It is not just money, it is experience in these other important areas as well,' Mr Wolton added.

He would not disclose how much had been invested, but said it could be tens of thousands of pounds. The company's turnover last year was �1.5m.

Mr Wolton added Wallace King would be looking to develop new technology and facilities while retaining its core values of quality, value, service, choice.

At one stage it looked as if the 15,000sq ft Diss store in Victoria Road might be under threat due to the recession, but that has been confirmed as safe as part of the investment package.

Of the investment, the Diss store's manager, Philip Sandell, said: 'It is very good news and it means that we can go forward confidently and enjoy a very good trading period.'

The business currently employs 12 to 15 people including delivery drivers and sub contractors, but there are no immediate plans to recruit new staff.

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