A new Kent Blaxill decorating centre in Chelmsford opened its doors last week, with Neil Ogilvie, chief executive of the Painting and Decorating Association, cutting the official ribbon in front of company customers, staff and suppliers.

It is the 178-year-old company’s 13th store – and the third it has opened this year - to serve both the trade and consumer markets following other launches in Saffron Walden and Stamford.

The branch is located at 21 Rodney Way on the Widford Industrial Estate in Chelmsford, CM1 3BY, where two units have been knocked into one and refurbished to create a bright modern store.

Simon Blaxill, managing director of Kent Blaxill, told guests: “With our headquarters only 20 miles away in Colchester, it is strange that we have not opened a branch here before, but traditionally north Essex has looked towards Suffolk. However, that has changed and it is now important for us to be in an expanding and prosperous location such as Chelmsford.

"In fact, we already have 200 customer accounts in the Chelmsford area and we will be aspiring to do a lot more business in the town and down towards Brentwood and the M25. We believe we have an attractive package of products, presentation and customer service, including a same-day delivery ability.”

Mr Ogilvie added: “It is an amazing achievement that a company formed in 1838 is still being so successful in opening new branches and creating employment.

“Our industry has changed a lot over the past 20 years with a lot of new materials. Some older tradesmen find it difficult to adapt but new stores like this, with all the new materials and advice, can help them to change.”

The four-person store will be managed by Luke Harrison, along with Steve Egginton, Jane Carr and Thamid Choudhury.