Carl Milton

Managing Director, Fenwick

"There is a huge amount of opportunity in Colchester and the surrounding areas"

How would you best describe Fenwick and its values?

A full line fashion forward Department Store with Beauty, Accessories and Home Furnishing. Our business values and culture are very important and people are at the heart of what we do.

Who started Fenwick in Colchester and when, and how has it evolved to date?

Originally Fenwick in Colchester, previously known as Williams and Griffin, was started in the 1840’s by Mr Williams. The company sold tractors as well as various other agricultural equipment, whilst Mr Griffin was a draper. Williams and Griffin’s evolved into a furnishing store, as well as other things, and remained a family business until Fenwick acquired it in 2008. Likewise, Fenwick was founded in 1882 and members of the Fenwick family remain involved in the business today. The £35 million re-development of the Colchester store began in 2014 and was completed in September 2016.

How big is Fenwick now?

Although numbers fluctuate depending on the season, we have nearly 300 colleagues with an annual turnover in excess of £30 million.

How do you see Fenwick evolving over the next 5 years?

Our 5 year objective is to evolve the customer shopping experience, by developing a more personalised, event-led and skill-enhancing retail experience. In addition to already localised curated product offering across all departments.

.What are the advantages of being a Colchester-based business?

There is a huge amount of opportunity in Colchester and the surrounding areas. The heritage is so important of both Fenwick as a store and the town in general. Its history is rich and interesting as well as the historic architecture of the Dutch Quarter, which is fantastic yet often overlooked. There are key businesses already in the town, plus excellent education providers with Colchester Institute and the University of Essex and a talented pool of employees. The town has the right raw materials and is on the cusp of becoming something really special.

What are the biggest challenges for business in Colchester?

There needs to be more focus on collaborative working within the town centre and efforts are being made to do this through companies like Colchester Presents, which I Chair. Our aim, through this way of working, is to ensure Colchester Town centre is developed to ensure it is well placed to meet the changing ways consumers are wanting to use town centre spaces. This, I hope, will be achieved by discussing and implementing ideas and plans, that will best place our town for the future.

As the town expands, what opportunities does this create for both Fenwick and for the town generally?

As the town expands, people will have more reasons to come to Colchester. This will attract further retail businesses. The location of the town is unique. It is close to London and has good rail and road links.

Of the 4 key themes being promoted by Colchester Ambassadors, which is the most important to you and why?

Embracing the entrepreneurial Spirit. Colchester is evolving, with the right measures in place the High Street could easily be the unique selling point of the town.