Changes ahead for family-run business
Blundell’s Furniture will close this September and will reopen – but not as we know it.
The family-run business first opened a store in July 1947, occupying the same Sittingbourne High Street building where it can be found now.
Founder Jack Blundell was demobbed from the Royal Air Force early in 1947, having served in the Second World War in Canada, training Canadian pilots to fly British planes. While there he met his wife Eileen.
He spent his final years of the war as a squadron leader in Bari, Italy, flying Dakotas.
After being demobbed the couple used their savings to join forces with Jack’s father Alfred Blundell, who was manager of the Co-op furniture store in East Street.
They took on the high street shop which had been used by the Home Guard during the war and spent a month clearing it out as it was a wreck after the war.
The doors opened in July 1947 and with hard work and dedication they built a legacy that has stood the test of time.
Over the years, the family opened other stores in Sittingbourne selling nursery goods, toys and fashion items in the 1960s. The last of these closed in 2009 when family members retired.
Robert Blundell and his wife Lisa have run the furniture store for the past 15 years.
Lisa said: “Like any business you have to move with the times and in the last five years retail has changed, with increased use of the internet and trading parks away from high streets.
“You have to look to the future.”
To that end, a number of changes are planned, not least the redevelopment of the existing shop, which will reopen with a different name. The ground floor retail area will become smaller and the rest of the building is being converted into four apartments.
Lisa continued: “With the changes we cannot stay as a furniture store so we are opening a new concept in the smaller shop in October.
“We have tweaked the Blundell’s name and will be trading as ARK Interiors and Flooring by Blundell’s.
“The name Ark is taken from our daughters’ initials, keeping it personal still as a family firm.
“The furniture side of the business will be taken online, with a new online shop opening in 2018.”
A closing down sale starts on Thursday, September 7 and will be the last chance to buy with the offer of free delivery and free disposal of old goods.
There will be huge reductions and discounts on new factory orders.
Anything purchased will still be under warranty and aftercare support for customers will still be available.
Lisa added: “We would like to take this opportunity to thank all our customers for their support over the years. Some of you just come in for a chat, which we find lovely of you.
“Sittingbourne is changing and we have to change with it. We are grateful as a family business to have survived the last 70 years and, out of respect for the founders, we wanted to get to this milestone before we changed.
“Eileen Blundell is now 92 and still takes an interest in the store. It is their legacy which we will take forward into the future in Sittingbourne.”
For more, visit www. arkinteriorsandflooring.co.uk
Blundell’s furniture store in Sittingbourne is celebrating its 70th anniversary
Jack and Eileen Blundell married in Canada in 1943