Modelling agency 'so excited' to take over former home of Cookes Pianos
- Credit: Sandra Reynolds Model Agency/ Brown&Co
A Norwich modelling agency is filling the blank space left by Cookes Pianos in St Benedicts Street — and hopes the venue will become its "forever head office".
Sandra Reynolds Model Agency is moving out of Bacon House, the building it has rented in St George's Street since 1977, and in to 23 Westwick Street.
The new site, which has a first-floor level facing St Benedicts Street, was formerly occupied by Cookes Pianos — and was for sale with Brown&Co for £325,000.
Founded in 1887, Cookes announced last month it was relocating to Cambridge — blaming Norfolk County Council's pedestrianisation project for dwindling footfall.
But for Tessa Dewing, managing director of the modelling agency, the spot is ideal.
"We’d rented the building in St George’s Street since 1977 from Norwich City Council and were never able to buy it", she said.
"I’d always driven past Cookes with the beautiful grand piano in the window, and thought if that ever comes up for sale it would be perfect for us.
"When I saw this for sale I was so excited but never thought we'd get it.
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"I’m really looking forward to getting to work on it now — it’s going to be our forever head office.
"We'll have three floors of offices and a photographic studio, as well as a meeting room.
"The building has lovely fireplaces, ceiling roses and wooden floors. It's beautiful."
Ms Dewing said she had builders booked to start in January with an opening date of June 2022 pencilled in the diary.
Work is scheduled to cost around £100,000.
Ms Dewing, who took over the business founded by her mother, said the company had outgrown its current home over the last five decades and now had 25 staff members.
Her move comes as the model agency continues to attract big big business from London and other national firms.
Some of the brands the team has hosted this year includes Joules, Next, Mint Velvet and ASOS.
And despite all the pressures the industry has faced during the pandemic, Ms Dewing stressed that she still loved her job.
"It's great when you nurture a new model then see them in their first campaign, or in a TV ad on a Saturday night.", she added. "It's so rewarding."