Gun­ning for growth

From a small back­room busi­ness, Cred­i­ton fam­ily firm Ladds Guns has be­come one of the largest and most in­flu­en­tial gun deal­ers in the UK. KATE WIL­LIAMS talks to Chris Ladd as the com­pany cel­e­brates its 60th an­niver­sary

Devon Life - - Ladds Guns -

Back in 1958, Don­ald Ladd started up a gun busi­ness in a spare room in Mid Devon. Grow­ing from a hobby and in­ter­est, Ladds Guns has be­come one of the coun­try’s top gun deal­ers.

De­spite its hum­ble be­gin­nings in Don­ald’s Chawleigh home, the busi­ness soon moved to Cred­i­ton High Street, then in 1997, Don­ald pur­chased Downes Mill, a larger premises on the out­skirts of Cred­i­ton.

To­day, the busi­ness is run by Michael and Va­lerie Ladd, along with their chil­dren - Chris, Jenny and Nick - all tak­ing an ac­tive part in the fam­ily-run busi­ness, ei­ther di­rectly or in­di­rectly.

This year’s cel­e­bra­tions of six decades of trad­ing fol­low the open­ing of a sec­ond shop and gun room, which launched in Septem­ber 2017 in South Molton.

Such growth is down to the tight-knit fam­ily who pitch in to run it, ac­cord­ing to di­rec­tor Chris Ladd.

He ex­plains: “Grandad [Don­ald] started the busi­ness in 1958 from a spare room. With a lot of hard work and a lit­tle luck it be­came the busi­ness it is to­day.

“I have a lot of re­spect for my grand­par­ents and par­ents who started and built the busi­ness up and I take a lot of pride in be­ing part of some­thing which is greater than its sum of its parts. It is also a re­ally friendly in­dus­try to work in, en­joy­ing good re­la­tions with our sup­pli­ers, cus­tomers and even our com­peti­tors!

‘We live and breathe shoot­ing and the coun­try life’

“Of course it [fam­ily busi­ness] can be in­tense – but it is also in­cred­i­bly re­ward­ing. We are a close-knit team and al­ways pull to­gether whether it is work or leisure.

As the fam­ily firm cel­e­brates its 60th an­niver­sary, Chris re­flects on the se­cret be­hind its ob­vi­ous suc­cess.

“We are not com­pa­ra­ble to most re­tail shops. The fam­ily el­e­ment has def­i­nitely con­trib­uted to a friendly, wel­com­ing at­mos­phere. What is more, be­tween us we rack up hun­dreds of years worth of ex­pe­ri­ence in our field - some­thing few other shops can of­fer and one would be hard pressed to find bet­ter ad­vice. We live and breathe shoot­ing and the coun­try life.”

With the sec­ond premises open­ing last year, the ex­pan­sion of Ladds Guns is a real tes­ta­ment to the hard work each mem­ber of the fam­ily has put in and shows the com­mit­ment they have to their cus­tomers.

Chris says: “The new premises opened in Septem­ber 2017 at The Old Sawmill, Filleigh in South Molton to bet­ter serve North Devon and Ex­moor.

“We of­fer a full range of shot­guns, ri­fles and air ri­fles in the gallery show­room which is com­ple­mented by some top qual­ity coun­try cloth­ing and se­lected life­style lines in­clud­ing items from Fair­fax and Favour, Hark­ila, Meindl, See­land, Jott and many more.”

Vis­i­tor Cen­tre show­cas­ing the his­tory of the Quay area

Far-reach­ing es­tu­ary views Cy­clists!

Start point: Frem­ing­ton Quay Café. Post­code: EX31 2NH. Grid ref: SS516333.

Park­ing: The café has its own car park for pa­trons and there is a pub­lic car park just beyond the café build­ings

Direc­tions to start: Frem­ing­ton Quay is 3½ miles west of Barn­sta­ple, ac­cessed off the B3233

Pub­lic trans­port: No buses to the Quay but they do call at nearby vil­lages, such as Bick­ing­ton and Frem­ing­ton (see trav­e­

Map: OS Ex­plorer 139 Bide­ford, Il­fra­combe & Barn­sta­ple 1:25 000

Ter­rain: Well-sur­faced Tarka Trail, po­ten­tially very muddy field paths and bri­dle­ways, lane Dis­tance: Just un­der 3 miles (4.5km) with ad­di­tional, op­tional ¾ mile (1.2km) there-and-back stretch along Pen­hill Point

Dog friend­li­ness: Good, but an­i­mals graz­ing fields. The café makes its own dog bis­cuits and al­lows dogs out­side on the plat­form

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