My Suffolk - William Coe
William Coe is the Managing Director of Coes the second oldest family business in Ipswich
His grandfather William, who was known as Billy, opened the Norwich Road shop in 1928 and his father David took over in 1956. Since then the company has expanded and it now has nine shops in Suffolk, Essex and Norfolk. The Norwich Road flagship is currently undergoing a £1.75 million revamp to modernise the exterior, which should be finished by June and then in 2012 add a third floor. William, who studied at Bath university and worked as a chartered accountant at Arthur Anderson’s in Cambridge for four years is married to Fiona and has two children Sophie, 11, and eight-year- old Charlie.
How long have you been working for the family business?
Well my first job was when I was about eight or nine when I had to clear snow from the car park. I did that with my children this year on the Sunday before Christmas. I told them there was no tobogganing until the car park was clear. I think they got paid considerably more than I did. When I was older I used to work here in the holidays but I came back here full time in 1997. I still feel a bit of a youngster though as our staff are so loyal – we’ve got about 30 people who have worked here for 25 years and our longest serving member of staff retired in his 80s after 65 years. You prefer to describe Coe’s as a shop rather than a store. Can you explain? I know we sometimes call ourselves a store but I think that we are just a big corner shop. A shop has a greater feeling of personal contact than a store.
Where do you live?
When we came back to Ipswich we either wanted to live in town or out in the country. I didn’t want to live on the edge of town, so I actually moved back to the road where I was born and brought up. My father has a house there as did my grandfather. It means everything is really convenient, I can walk to work and the children’s school is just out the back garden.
Have you got anywhere favourite to eat out?
The Greyhound on Henley Road, because it’s my local. We go to Kesgrave Hall because it means the children can run around on the grass. If it’s somewhere special it’s The Mariners on the Quay – I think it’s the best restaurant in Ipswich. I like to enjoy a glass of wine and so does my wife – so it makes it much easier if you can walk to places.
Where’s your favourite place to walk?
I don’t really go for walks actually. Instead I go for runs in the Fynn Valley. We are blessed in north Ipswich because it’s only half a mile from my house to the town centre, within 200 yards you can be in the prettiest park in this part of the world (Christchurch Park) and just a mile away you can be lost in countryside. I run twice a week for pleasure because it allows me to completely switch off and it’s flexible. Sometimes my wife Fiona comes with me, she enjoys running too but she’s fitter than me. If I take the kids out for a walk it would be at Pin Mill or Kyson Point.
Adnam’s or Greene King?
Adnam’s because that’s what The Greyhound sells. I enjoy both pints though.
Where do you go on holiday?
Ski-ing, which I thoroughly enjoy because you can switch off and the kids can ski now and I see that as an investment for the future. Hopefully when they get older they’ll want to keep going ski-ing with us, even if Dad has to pay. In the summer we go to Spain as my father has a place out there and in the autumn we take short breaks which gives me the opportunity to catch up on friends from around the country.
Is there anywhere else you’d rather live?
Well I’ve lived in Bath and spent four years in Cambridge and they were both beautiful cities to live in. They are definitely not the same sort of places but I like it here. This is where my friends and family are.