Pile ’em high pioneer’s legacy

CELIA WIGG The pioneer of “pile 'em high sell 'em cheap” retailing has left more than £2.6m in his will.Basil Adams, known as Big Barry, built up a multi-million pound business empire from Norfolk and was one of the first to spot the potential of Alan Sugar's budding Amstrad company.

CELIA WIGG

The pioneer of "pile 'em high sell 'em cheap" retailing has left more than £2.6m in his will.

Basil Adams, known as Big Barry, built up a multi-million pound business empire from Norfolk and was one of the first to spot the potential of Alan Sugar's budding Amstrad company.

But although he made it his home he was not always so fond of the county - when he was evacuated to King's Lynn from his native London he disliked it so much he walked all the way home - only to be sent back by his mother.

Mr Adams, of Church Road, Tasburgh, died in August last year. He set up his first market stall at Petticoat Lane and later ran stores in Whitby and Scarborough before starting up a shop on the end of Britannia Pier in Yarmouth, selling low cost jewellery, pocket lighters and watches.

After expanding to Guildhall Hill, Norwich, the BB Adams empire really took off. A pioneer in bringing new technology to the masses, selling radios, aerials, one waveband radios, batteries and LPs at knock down prices, he also had stores in Dereham, Cromer, Thetford, Mildenhall and Wymondham.

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BB Adams merged with wholesale and retail giants Bennetts and Fountain in 1986 - now one of the top electrical retailers in the country with a turnover of more than £52m.

He will be remembered as a big personality who, after leaving school aged 14, built himself up from humble beginnings.

Every Thursday and Saturday leading up to Christmas his Norwich shop was used as an auction room.

Shoppers would sit in rows while Mr Adams sat behind a counter with gavel and microphone taking bids on various items.

His dealings with Alan Sugar came at the beginning of the Amstrad-era and he associated with many successful characters.

The estimated value of his estate is £2,676,249 gross, £2,186,831 net. Probate has been granted to his daughter, Lisa Martine Adams, of Walnut Tree Farm, East Tuddenham, near Dereham, and his son, Dean Ashley Adams, of The Glebe, Hockering.