Sep 04, 2023
A Spotlight on Kent Blaxill
This month, we take a look at one of the newest brands to the IBMG group, Kent Blaxill.
Founded in 1838, founder John Kent started the business by selling paint, where skilled assistants would manufacture this within the shop itself, set up in the heart of Colchester town centre. The business has been synonymous with Colchester throughout its rich history and was well known to anyone in the community as a family business through and through. Within a few years, they were well established as the go-to place for paint and had started to expand the business into selling glass.
John Kent later joined forces with his son-in-law, Edwin Blaxill, to form the name we know today. Kent Blaxill has since been passed down from generation to generation, whilst maintaining its strong community spirit, with John Kent becoming Senior Deacon at the Lion Walk Church in Colchester, as well as later becoming the first liberal mayor for 43 years and even has a road named after him. Edwin Blaxill’s son, also called Edwin, also went on to be made an honorary freeman of the borough in 1938.
“Going from strength to strength”
Having been able to boost business following the war, due to the high demand for glass, Kent Blaxill has gone from strength to strength, expanding further into kitchens, bathrooms, hardware and fireplaces, with the expansion giving them an impressive presence along the high street in Colchester.
With 2 devastating fires impacting the business throughout its history, Kent Blaxill has shown resilience and determination to build their reputation to what it is today. With a huge 6.5acre plot on the outskirts of Colchester being opened when they outgrew the high street, as well as the opening of many satellite branches, they moved into the building materials market in the 1980’s.
2 Builders Merchant Branches
However, with 20 out of the 22 branches in the network focussed on the painting and decorating industry, where the heritage of the business was built, Kent Blaxill was bought by Paintwell in 2022, who specialise in the same industry. This then led to a separation of the Builders Merchant side of the business, where in 2023 IBMG acquired the 2 branches dedicated to this industry.
Mark Ward, director of Kent Blaxill Colchester and Bury St Edmunds, has a rich history within the building industry, having worked for MKM for 15 years previously, and is keen to bring his expertise to help drive the building merchant side of Kent Blaxill forward.
“A Badge of Honour”
“Kent Blaxill has been synonymous with Colchester throughout its history, with people seeing it as a ‘badge of honour’ to work for the Kent Blaxill name. Now we have the backing and support of IBMG, our objective is to rebuild and get the name back out into the community, to continue the legacy of the business, and we can’t wait to see what the future holds for us!” Says Mark.
IBMG sees great potential in the 2 sites that Kent Blaxill brings with it and already have plans to take them to the next level, whilst maintaining the strong community connection.