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Family business to close after 68 years
8:20am Thursday 26th September 2013 in News
A FAMILY business which has had its home in Westcliff for 68 years is closing its doors.
B&R Barnes Kitchens and Bedrooms was set up in 1945 at the end of the Second World War by Barnett Barnes, known as Barney, initially selling timber, hardwares, deckchairs and china all things in demand post war.
He introduced whitewood kitchen and bedroom furniture which became the company’s mainstay. His son Roy joined the family firm straight from school at the age of 15. He took over aged 29 when his dad retired.
Mr Barnes, now 65, has decided the time is right to close up shop for the final time.
He said: “There is a right time for everything and now is right for this. “People say why don’t I sell the business but I am the business. Its an emotional thing to close because my dad started it but I want to walk away with dignity.
“I’m very proud of what we have done. Its difficult but I think if my parents were looking down they’d think I was being sensible.”
Despite his dad, who passed away in 2007, being his boss he didn’t get an easy ride, being given the sack on his first day.
Mr Barnes, who was born and grew up in Westcliff, said: “I learned the trade from my late father. I didn’t drive so I used to get the bus to get laminated panels to bring back to the shop. I would then stick the laminate onto the plywood top of the kitchen cabinet with evo-stik.
“In those days, it was more economical, to purchase a whitewood cabinet, and paint it and then fix a laminate top.”
At its height the company took over four shops in London Road and now retains one.
A notice has gone up to inform customers he is retiring. There is a sale on kitchen and bedroom furniture but he is still taking orders including from a return customer who had their first kitchen installed 23 years ago.
Mr Barnes, who has four children and eight grandchildren, said: “It may take a few months or be until next year to clear the shop.
“I’ll be spending my retirement getting back into golf, working in the Jewish community and I have an interest in after dinner speaking and also returning to the trade part time as a consultant.”
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