The future of a much-loved stationery and fine writing shop with a long Harrogate heritage has been secured after being taken over by new owners.
Council leaders agree £1m funding boost for troubled Welcome to Yorkshire, but warn the company must shape up
Jespers of Harrogate has been a permanent fixture in the town centre since 1901, passing through four generations of the same local family. But its future looked uncertain after the family announced their retirement from the business in April.
Now, new owners are set to take the firm in to a new era, preserving the jobs of the staff, and developing and enhancing the company’s product range to appeal to new customers.
To the Jespers family’s delight, the new owners are the Yorkshire-based Morris and Vickers families who themselves have owned businesses through the generations in a variety of sectors including stationery and office supplies.
One of the new owners, Morgan Morris, said: “I’ve lived in Harrogate for about 14 years and have shopped in Jespers many times, so I’m delighted to be able to ensure its future. Our aim is to keep doing what Jespers have been doing so well for decades.
"We’re hoping to continue to appeal to their loyal customer base by retaining all the current ranges of fine writing, stationery, gifts, arts and crafts. At the same time, we’ll be introducing different products to reach new customers as well, particularly a younger audience and people looking for high-quality gifts.”
Former managing director Peter Jesper will return to the business on a part-time basis as he takes on a consultancy role focused on his fine writing specialism and extensive knowledge of luxury stationery brands.
New plans to ease congestion in Harrogate to be discussed by North Yorkshire County Council
He said: “I’m delighted to be involved with Jespers as the company moves forward into a new chapter in its history. One of the main joys for me over the years has been the satisfaction of providing a great service, so I’m looking forward to maintaining long-established and valued relationships with Jespers’ customers and suppliers.
“Since we announced in April our intentions to retire, the interest from the local community in the future of both our family and the business has been huge. We are so grateful for all the support we’ve received and we hope everyone is as excited as we are that Jespers of Harrogate will be continuing and developing in the future.”
Peter’s father, Charles Jesper, added: “Jespers has been in my family for 118 years and we’ve been overwhelmed with the many good wishes we’ve received from people in Harrogate and beyond. I’m delighted that the business is being handed on to a team that’s going to respect the company’s history and values, including our reputation for outstanding customer service. As a family, we are also extremely pleased for the staff at the shop. I’d like to wish the new owners every success for the future.”
Shoppers will still be able to buy all their favourite products from the Jespers store and website, but will notice new products and expanded ranges, with a particular focus on family businesses with a long heritage. Among the new products will be the Royal Horticultural Society home fragrance collection from Wax Lyrical, fragrance and candles from Floris of London and Bomb Cosmetics, high-end men’s grooming ranges from Edwin Jagger of Sheffield and Westminster, and speciality soaps, and cleansing products from the Bentley Organic and Watkins Soap Company.
An area of the store on Oxford Street will be set aside for children, featuring a ‘Colouring-In Corner’ and a variety of colourful and fun products. New ranges will include unicorn-themed stationery from Fourth Wall, books from Usborne and stationery from Tinc, which people may remember from the Victoria Shopping Centre.
New action to tackle "revolting" drug dealing in Harrogate
The Jespers range of office furniture will be expanded with products from Shipley-based H C Slingsby Plc, of which Morgan Morris is the group chief executive. Morgan’s father Alan Morris has 30 years’ experience in the stationery industry and owns the Bulldog and Premier Grip brands, which will also be added to the Jespers product range.