The team at the Holdens store, at Beaumond Cross Shopping Centre, left to right, Dave Tilbury, Katie Holden, Nick King, Linda McArvail and Emma Holden. 290817LSP1-7
The team at the Holdens store, at Beaumond Cross Shopping Centre, left to right, Dave Tilbury, Katie Holden, Nick King, Linda McArvail and Emma Holden. 290817LSP1-7

One of Newark’s leading retailers, which prides itself on its outstanding customer service, celebrates its 80th anniversary this year.

Holdens of Newark is an independent family business run by Emma Holden and her partner, Jonny Smith, working with her sister, Katie.

The company sells a fantastic range of stylish ready-made and bespoke furniture.

“We are always moving with the times and keeping up with what people want,” Emma said.

Customer service is all impor-tant. Nothing is too much trouble. If Holdens don’t stock what a customer wants, they can find it.

“Our staff are trained to go the extra mile,” Emma said.

“Every customer is treated like an VIP.”

The team of cabinet-makers at Holdens led by Jonny Smith (third from left) are, left to right, Dave Hallam, Paul Donaldson and Lee Reesby. Picture: Steve Watson
The team of cabinet-makers at Holdens led by Jonny Smith (third from left) are, left to right, Dave Hallam, Paul Donaldson and Lee Reesby. Picture: Steve Watson

As a result they find customers return time and time again.

“We want to be their go-to shop, rather than them having to shop around.
We can be their personal shopper,” Emma said.

The showroom is based at Beaumond Cross Shopping Centre in Newark. The entrance is on Asda’s top-level carpark.

Emma said: “This building is more conducive to the business. It is smart and modern and the addition of the mezzanine floor has given us so much more floor space.”

Emma is clearly passionate about the company and says it has become an obsession that she hopes passes on to the staff.

The Holdens story started in the 1880s when cabinet-maker William Holden (Emma’s great great-grandfather) opened his first furniture shop in Belper, along with a factory and sawmill.

Both were devastated by fire but, undeterred, in 1905 he opened a new factory, acquired a sawmill and opened 11 more furniture shops, including one in Newark, trading as W. Holden and Son.

He died in 1934 and a year later his son Edwin, who ran the Newark shop, decided to move it to a new town-centre location.

The new Newark store began trading as E. Holden and Son in 1937 and work to expand it began with Edwin acquiring 14 neighbouring properties.

Edwin died in 1943 and as his son, Eric, had been called up to serve in the Army his mother, Daisy, stepped in to run the business, earning herself a reputation as a formidable and influential business leader.

Newark's biggest showroom

By the early 1950s Eric was back home and working with his mother. They developed the business together and by 1958 it had become Newark’s biggest showroom.

In 1973 the Holden family bought premises on Castlegate and Middlegate. They were initially used as warehouses before the store was moved to the landmark location.

Eric’s son, Jonathan, joined the business in 1983 and became managing director.

His wife, Marion, joined him in 1986 and the company was firmly established as one of Newark’s leading retailers.

The couple’s daughter, Emma, joined the company in 2006 and in 2014 launched Holdens bespoke with Jonny Smith.

A year later the company moved to its current location.

Jonathan and Marion retired last year and Emma and Jonny took over the reins.

“We are hoping to make sure Holdens remains a household name in Newark for many years to come,” Emma said.

The anniversary celebrations started on Monday and continue until October 29 when they will finish with a special party in the store.

Throughout the next two months they will be raising money for two Newark charities. It is hoped to raise at least £8,000 to be shared between Beaumond House Community Hospice, where Emma is a director, and the Children’s Bereavement Centre. 

They have organised a free-to-enter competition where one lucky winner will receive £2,017-worth of bespoke furniture.

They are also asking customers to look out their old Holdens receipts and bring them into the store. The one dating back the furthest will win a chauffeur-driven trip to Kelham House and Country Manor for a luxury champagne tea for two.

More information can be found on the Holdens website.