Director retires after 40 years with home design and furnishings firm

Andy Payne (second from left) celebrates his forthcoming retirement with finance director Michael Barton, managing director Lee Ferris and kitchen team leader Claire Hunt
X The Business Desk

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A director at one of Northamptonshire’s most well-known stores is preparing to retire after 40 years with the business.

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.

Payne’s career with Bell also saw him become manager of the firm’s Market Harborough branch for about 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 him 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.

Payne said: “I joined Bell just as it was moving into kitchen design and I thought I’d stay 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.”

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