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Barkers Furnishing Store

A NEW generation from family-owned Northallerton business, Barkers, will perform the turf cutting ceremony to signal the start of a £3million expansion.

William, Hannah and Thomas Barker will perform the formalities to get building work underway on the extension of Barkers Furnishing Store in Yafforth Road, where dad Ian is Store Director, on Monday, April 20.

The size of the furnishing store will be expanded by 20,000 square feet to create a new section for contemporary furniture, homeware and accessories. William, 11, Hannah, 10, and seven-year-old Thomas are potentially a future generation of Barkers who may choose to work in the family store. The work will be carried out by Darlington firm Wharton Construction, and is expected to be completed in time for Christmas. Work will also start this spring on a £500,000 revamp of the first-floor restaurant and womenswear department at Barkers' flagship High Street department store.

The existing restaurant will be completely re-modelled to create a modern 180-seater restaurant with new flooring, lighting, counters, chairs and entrance, with an area selling luxury gift food, biscuits and chocolates. Barkers has been a prominent name on the Northallerton high street since 1882 when 14-year-old William Barker started his retail apprenticeship in a small shop in the High Street, which eventually grew into Barkers department store.

Barkers Managing Director Charles Barker, whose son Guy and niece Sally Chapman also work in the family business, said: “We are a family business, which has been part of Northallerton for a long time and we plan to be around for many years into the future. New generations are keen to carry on so we thought it would be a great idea to invite my nephew Ian's three young children to cut the turf for the new furnishing store development."

“This is an exciting time for us as we have been working towards this new development for eight years. It would have gone ahead in 2008 but we put it on hold because of the banking crisis. We should never sit still. It's important to have a policy of constant improvement to what we do, offering the best shopping experience that we can with exciting new products, good customer service, and some retail theatre."

“Wharton Construction is also a family business and we have worked with them for the last 10 years."

Peter Wharton, Managing Director of Wharton Construction, said: “We have had a long standing business relationship spanning many years with Barkers. We've completed a number of interesting projects for them, but this will be the biggest undertaken on their behalf."

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