New MD at Great Yarmouth-based Palmers relishes the challenge of his new job
Great Yarmouth-based family business Palmers is embarking on a new era today. New managing director David Howard, who officially succeeds Bruce Sturrock today, has spent all his working life with family-owned independent retail stores.
And he is relishing the challenge as it celebrates its 175th anniversary.
Palmers, which employs 300 people across five stores in Yarmouth, Dereham, Lowestoft and Bury St Edmunds, has a turnover of about �15m a year. It enjoyed a merry festive period after seeing a 50pc rise in its monthly sales figures after launching a revamped website, being managed by Mr Sturrock's daughter Emma.
'I like working for a family-owned business, rather than a large high-street chain,' Mr Howard said. 'It's much more relaxed and more productive. The staff have more input and more team-working.'
The 46-year-old joined Palmers in June to work on the handover with Mr Sturrock, who will remain chairman. He said plans included a refurbishment of the first-floor fur-niture, beds and linen department at Yarmouth and a coffee-shop facelift.
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In Lowestoft ranges in fashion and household will be refreshed and the Dereham store will add a cookshop in March and get a full makeover. The Bury St Edmunds home store and fashion store will both be refreshed.
'We will be looking to introduce more innovative products and will be looking to see what Europe is offering. Our new website launched last year and is an added extra, raising the profile and brand of Palmers across the whole country. It has had a tremendous increase in transactions compared with the original website. We now offer homewares, household, linens and later in the month beds and new product categories will be added over the coming months.'
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Married with two teenagers, Mr Howard, previously joint MD at Pearson (Enfield), took the Palmers' job after moving on when family-owned Pearsons group, which had stores in London and the South-East, was sold to a larger group in 2010.
'Bruce was looking to his retirement and wanted a person to be well settled, in place and fully conversant with the business before stepping down.'