New Bishop's Stortford flagship store in North Street for Fordes Home
Interior design guru James Ford is getting ready to make himself at home in Bishop’s Stortford.
He is transforming the former Lathams interiors, furniture and accessories premises in North Street into the flagship of his business, Fordes Home, and hopes to open by November, with a spectacular Christmas window display.
First, the historic property requires extensive refurbishment before it fits the 35-year-old entrepreneur’s vision.
He already runs a successful event planning service, JF Styling, and most recently worked on the wedding of 2017 Love Island stars Camilla Thurlow and Jamie Jewitt at the start of the month.
He opened his first Fordes Home outlet in his home town of Dunmow in July 2020. The business has gone from strength to strength at its base on the Chelmsford Road industrial estate, despite the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Previously James combined his retail roles with a singing career. As well as appearing at major events like V Festival in Chelmsford, he was a favourite at Bishop’s Stortford’s Skew restaurant in Adderley Road and got to know the town well.
He is now concentrating on his interior design, homeware, accessories, flowers and gifts business.
“I just realised that I really wanted to take a step back from singing – it’s quite physically demanding,” he said. “I decided retail was where I really enjoyed building a rapport with customers.”
The restrictions imposed by coronavirus tested his business model but James said the need to diversify – for example, by organising an outdoor Christmas market – confirmed his customer base.
The next step was finding space to expand. He was a fan of Lathams, which has consolidated its business in Epping, and was immediately interested in the North Street premises. Two of its former staff have already been recruited.
James, a former Helena Romanes School student, said: “I got a phone call from a few business owners in Bishop’s Stortford I know.
“I was looking to move to a flagship store – it’s much bigger than Dunmow and will be stocking exclusive brands. I needed to be a high street presence.”
Changes in North Street, including the arrival of Stock Florist at a revamped Florence Walk, convinced him the time was right to introduce his interior design and homeware brand.
He will be selling everything from high-end beds and sofas to soft furnishings and gifts.
His Dunmow store incorporates a café selling artisan bakes and serving coffee from a £15,000 machine. Ultimately his plan is to introduce a similar outlet in North Street, once the building has been upgraded.
Built in the 17th century, it was previously known as Doctor’s House. Its first recorded resident was Dr James Tweed.
Between 1733 and 1814 it was the family home and surgery of the Dimsdales, a Quaker family of doctors who practised in Stortford and Hertford in the 17th, 18th and early 19th centuries. The family included smallpox vaccination pioneer Sir Thomas Dimsdale. The last medic in residence was Australian Dr Robert Wallace before he moved to Hadham Road in 1938.
Before it was converted to a shop in the mid-1900s, the building had a pillared porch, bay window and small front garden bordered by iron railings.