Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Carpet shop shuts after 14 years

A CARPET and rug shop in Henley has closed after 14 years.

A CARPET and rug shop in Henley has closed after 14 years.

But the owner of Knights Oriental Rugs in Friday Street insists the town is still one of the best places in Britain for retailing.

Mr Knight, whose last day of trading was on Saturday, is moving the shop to Moreton-in-Marsh in Gloucestershire, where it will trade as Cotswold Oriental Rugs, and will live a few miles away.

Until now, he has been living in Winchester in Hampshire, which is 44 miles from Henley by car.

Mr Knight, who is married with two grown-up children, said: “We were looking to find a suitable premises to relocate the business and have now found one. The reason is logistical.

“Our business has been hugely successful in its 14 years in Henley. I’m a great supporter of Henley as a town. It’s certainly one of the best retail towns in the UK and great for attracting high quality customers, both locally and internationally.”

Mr Knight, whose customers have included the Duchess of Cambridge, said: “We also have a strong online presence and have an international customer base. That is how we have succeeded.

“A lot of people open businesses in the town and think they have a right to succeed without giving thought to what their business concept is.

“The high street as a retail place has changed in the last 15 years. Now to succeed as a business you have to make yourself a destination. Places like hairdressers, nail bars and coffee shops all succeed because they’re items you can’t reach online.

“I have very clear views that Henley is a fantastic place to run a business but you have to have the right business and the right model.”

When he opened the shop in 2002 he also launched Henley Antiques across the street in order to indulge his passion for antiques after working in corporate business until he was in his forties.

For a time this business shared premises with The Ferret, another antiques shop which now has its own outlet in Friday Street.

Henley Antiques closed in 2014 when Mr Knights decided not to renew the lease on the store.

In the same year, the Duchess of Cambridge visited his carpet shop to buy rugs for her 10-bedroom Georgian house in Norfolk. She spent 90 minutes in the shop and bought a selection of Kilim rugs from Turkey. These often have tassels and geometric patterns in blue, red and yellow colours and can cost as much as £4,000 each.

Some of the rugs were used at Anmer Hall, the Sandringham mansion given to Prince William and his wife by the Queen in 2013.

The Duchess was recommended to visit the shop by a designer in London.

At the time, Mr Knight said she was “just like any other customer” and added: “If she can make the effort to come to the shop, it shows what you can achieve.”

He said he would miss Henley, adding: “It is a wonderful town — I can’t say it enough. There are so many nice people and good people here.”

He said another business would be moving into the carpet shop.

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