One of Northamptonshire’s best-loved stores is preparing to say a fond farewell to a director who has been with the business for 40 years.
Andy Payne was hired as a kitchen designer by Bell of Northampton fresh out of art school at the age of 20 in 1981.
During the past four decades he has seen the business move to its current premises in Kingsthorpe Road, launch new services and online sales, and successfully navigate the ups and downs of the UK economy and retail sector.
Andy’s career with Bell also saw him become manager of the firm’s Market Harborough branch for a decade and a departmental director before he went on to become one of the iconic lifestyle store’s owners and directors.
However, a health scare a couple of years ago has encouraged Andy to want to spend more time with his wife and family and devote more time to his love of painting, so he is preparing to retire in December.
Andy said: “I joined Bell just as it was moving into kitchen design. When I arrived, I thought I’d be here for about six months, but Bell is such a special place to work I’ve stayed for 40 years.
“I’ve seen so many changes over the years. When I first started no one had mobile phones or computers – I remember we got one of the first fax machines and it was amazing at the time.
“Another huge change has been the growth of contract business with builders and developers and online sales, truly making us a multi-channel retailer with a vision for the future. Over the years we’ve also launched our café and added a select group of concessions, including interior design, gifting and even an art gallery.
“Despite all these changes, our core values of being respectful to our customers and suppliers and offering high standards of customer service and quality products have remained the same. These values were instilled in me by the previous owners and directors, and I’ve been proud to pass them on to our newer members of staff.
“I’m honoured to have been a part of the Bell family and to have helped it through recessions, wars and even a pandemic. To know that we’ve continued to support our customers and provide a living for between 60 to 80 families in our community means a lot to me.”
Bell has been attracting shoppers from across the region to Northampton for more than 120 years. Its current premises in Kingsthorpe is a substantial destination store that is a one-stop shop for all of the main fittings for the home.
Visitors have the opportunity to explore Bell’s showrooms which are fitted out with quality contemporary and traditional kitchens, luxurious bathrooms, a wide range of porcelain tiles, state-of-the art fires and stoves and the best outdoor living offer in the county.
Bell has also built up a strong reputation as the host of some of the best live events in the county, including cookery demonstrations, pop-up shops and open evenings.
Bell of Northampton is located in Kingsthorpe Road, Northampton.
Pictured above (l to r) Michael Barton, Andy Payne, Lee Ferris, Claire Hunt