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Businessman sought to take over 110-year-old Norfolk bookshop

FC Barnwell & Sons in Market Place, Aylsham has been run by Gwen Wright for 47 years, but she is soon looking to retire. Pictures: David Bale

FC Barnwell & Sons in Market Place, Aylsham has been run by Gwen Wright for 47 years, but she is soon looking to retire. Pictures: David Bale

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It’s been a fixture in Aylsham’s Market Place for more than 100 years - but one of Norfolk’s oldest bookshops needs a new owner.

FC Barnwell & Sons in Market Place, Aylsham has been run by Gwen Wright for 47 years, but she is soon looking to retire. Pictures: David BaleFC Barnwell & Sons in Market Place, Aylsham has been run by Gwen Wright for 47 years, but she is soon looking to retire. Pictures: David Bale

Brothers Julian and Lincoln Barnwell are looking to sell FC Barnwell & Sons in the Market Place.

The shop was founded by Charles Harry Barnwell, the brothers’ great-grandfather, and it has been at the same premises since 1908.

Gwen Wright, 74, has run it for 47 years, but she is looking to retire.

To ensure the shop, which also sells newspapers, toys, and gifts, continues, the brothers, who also run printing firm Barnwell Print, are offering to give the new owner 60pc of the current stock and the fixtures and fittings.

Michael Barnwell and Gwen Wright in 2006 celebrating her 65th birthday. Picture: Supplied by Julian Barnwell.Michael Barnwell and Gwen Wright in 2006 celebrating her 65th birthday. Picture: Supplied by Julian Barnwell.

Julian Barnwell said: “We are willing to write-off 60pc of the surviving stock. We are very aware we want to get the right person in, give them a head-start, and keep the business in Aylsham.

“It’s been in our family for more than 100 years and it’s such a hub for the town, but printing is our business now. It’s a brilliant opportunity for someone, as we are gifting them the business.

“There are lots of opportunities to grow the business. It doesn’t even have a website at the moment, for example.

“But we are keeping an open mind about what the shop would be used for. Gwen is not putting pressure on us to retire so we have some time.”

Barnwell Print directors, Lincoln, left, and Julian Barnwell. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYBarnwell Print directors, Lincoln, left, and Julian Barnwell. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

He said the shop has a turnover of around £300,000 a year, is profitable and has a regular customer base of 400 people a week who receive newspaper deliveries. The Barnwells would charge rent on the premises and want to see a business plan from any prospective new owner to ensure its success.

Mrs Wright, who lives with husband Horry in Alby, said: “I worked for their dad, Michael Barnwell, at first. He had me sorting envelopes in my first few days and I thought, ‘I am not even going to be here a week’, but I ended up being here 47 years.

“We have had some good times and a laugh.”

interested? Email Julian Barnwell at julian@barnwellprint.co.uk

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