Jarrolds, a company whose name is synonymous with Norwich, has been named winner of the Outstanding Achievement award, sponsored by Barclays Corporate Banking, at the EDP Business Awards 2023.

The award comes in the same year that Jarrolds marked its 200th year in Norfolk, with John Jarrold originally founding the business in Woodbridge, Suffolk, in 1770.

The seventh generation of the Jarrold family is still involved today, and group CEO Nick Steven-Jones believes the award is a fitting reward for the company’s longevity and resilience.

“I’ve been here 18 months, so it’s hard for me to articulate the effort and continual rejuvenation that it needs to continue not only a family-owned business over multiple generations, but a business that’s seen 253 years of change and transformation,” he said.

“It’s a monumental effort to keep the business going for so long, let alone evolve and be in the position of strength it finds itself in now.

“I think it’s testament to the generations of both colleagues and family that have gone before, not least in the last 20 years under David Hill as executive chairman, who has overseen the transformation of the printing business into a thriving property development proposition, and the continued investment into retail experience.”

Eastern Daily Press: Jarrolds’ flagship department store in NorwichJarrolds’ flagship department store in Norwich (Image: Jarrolds)
The past three to four years in particular have been among the most challenging of Jarrolds’ history. The pandemic forced the company to close the doors of its flagship Norwich department store and other retail outlets across Norfolk.

“We’re not a fast-fashion business by any means, but the stock in our shop turns over three or four times a year,” said Nick. “To be in a position where you close your doors with not only the following two seasons probably in transit or ordered, but also a shop full of stock that is literally going out of fashion, it’s an extreme circumstance.”

The company’s resilience through Covid – and its recovery since – owes a lot to “brave” decision-making, innovation and investing in all parts of the wider Jarrolds business. Other companies within the Jarrolds group include Jarrold Property, Jarrold Training and Jarrold Facilities Management.

“Our stores might be the most well-known element of the group, but there’s more to it than retail,” said Tom Burdett, director of finance and strategic operations. “A massive issue in one area isn’t going to sink the whole ship because we have that diversified portfolio of sectors.

“Until quite recently, all of those different businesses worked in isolation, but we are now looking much more at how we project ourselves as a group.”

To say that Jarrolds has recovered from the pandemic would be an understatement.

Not only has turnover returned to pre-pandemic levels, surpassing £32m this year, but the company has continued to invest in its retail stores – most notably spending £600k to transform the lower ground floor of London Street into a deli and food hall.

Eastern Daily Press: Jarrolds invested £600k in a new-look deli and food hall at its London Street storeJarrolds invested £600k in a new-look deli and food hall at its London Street store (Image: Jarrolds)
The other businesses in the group have also continued to grow, with Jarrold Training growing by 60pc since pre-pandemic.

Looking ahead to the next 200 years, Jarrolds is aiming to expand into other sectors and invest further in the county it is proud to call home.

“We do well as an organisation because we leverage the best of Norfolk,” said Nick. “By leveraging the best of Norfolk and feeding back into that economy, we get better, and Norfolk gets better."

Tom added: “That sense of place and affinity to Norfolk as a community is hugely important to Jarrolds.

“In the short term, we will be working more closely with local businesses and suppliers because their success should be – and will be – our success and the county’s success. We recently launched Jarrolds Business Club and we’re looking forward to expanding that concept in the new year. 

“We want Jarrolds to be synonymous to Norfolk in exactly the same way as it is to Norwich today.”

For more information, visit jarrold.com

The other EDP Business Awards 2023 winners will be announced at a ceremony at Norfolk Showground, Norwich on Thursday, November 23. For more information, visit edpbusinessawards.co.uk