The Gas Shop is one of the region’s longest established companies, specialising in domestic gas appliance services, plumbing and heating, and is one of the original members of Corgi (now Gas Safe).
The company was started in 1988 by Simon Abbott, an ex-British Gas apprenticeship served engineer, and has been successfully trading from the same premises in Orwell Rd, Felixstowe for 30 years.
All of our engineers are fully qualified, highly trained and have all worked for the company for between 10-25 years.
We are trusted contractors to many large letting agents, large house builders and housing associations and have built our reputation over many years for providing a first class service.
1988-2018 – The Gas Shop Celebrates 30 Years
Simon Abbott left Orwell High School in Felixstowe at 16 years old in 1980 and began an engineering apprenticeship with British Gas. By 1987, he had grown disillusioned and frustrated with working for a big corporate company and believed there was an opening for a small independent gas appliance retailer to compete against the giant, British Gas had become.
Simon’s father, John, was working at Cliff Quay Power Station in Ipswich and in 1987 was offered redundancy when the Power Station was closed and production moved to Sizewell.
Using his redundancy money and a mortgage, John bought an old derelict shoe repairer’s shop (14 Orwell Rd, Felixstowe)…. Simon resigned from his job and the two of them set to work renovating the shop.
A deal was done for Simon to take a lease on the shop and The Gas Shop opened in September 1988.
By now money had run out to buy any stock, but Simon saw an opening to sell second hand gas cookers and fires to Landlords, first time buyers and people who could not afford to buy new appliances. Using his old contacts from his British Gas days, he was able to ‘acquire’ their old trade-in appliances, topped up with a weekly trip to the local waste disposal sites.
Using an acid tank and a pair of rubber gloves, these old appliances were cleaned and reconditioned for resale.
The profits from these second hand appliance sales were then ploughed back into buying brand new appliances and genuine competition with British Gas began.
Early in the 1990’s, due to the tough economic conditions, British Gas took the decision to close many of its smaller showrooms. These showrooms were not only there to sell appliances, but also to accept payment of gas bills and sell tokens for gas meters.
Simon borrowed a suit and set up a meeting with a senior executive at British Gas’s head office and offered to run a payment desk at The Gas Shop, accepting bill payments and selling tokens on British Gas’s behalf. Amazingly they accepted the proposal, Simon’s mum, Joan, manned the new payment desk and, on the first Monday, people were queued down the road and the business boomed due to the increased footfall.
During the 1990’s the company expanded into central heating systems, gas boilers, fireplaces, wood burners, service and repairs. In 1994, a talented young plumbing and heating engineer joined the company called Dave Friston. He has now been with the company for 25 years and his son, Daniel, joined as an apprentice in 2016.
As the company grew, it took on more employees and acquired surrounding properties to accommodate the growth. However, with the birth of the internet, the signs were clear that, to survive on the High St, you had to be streamlined and competitive. Today, 30 years after it first opened, the Company is still operating from its original premises, 14 Orwell Rd, and the adjoining shop, 16 Orwell Rd.
The Gas Shop now has over 12,000 regular customers on its database and has total sales in excess of £50 million.
Several of the company’s existing engineers joined on an apprenticeship scheme straight from school and it is hoped that this new generation will take the company forward for the next 30 years.