We use cookies to give you the best experience and help us improve our website.

Find out more about how we use cookies.

Latest News Insuring stability: Jarrolds’ partnership with Alan Boswell Group

Insuring stability: Jarrolds’ partnership with Alan Boswell Group


Jarrolds’ story as a much-loved Norfolk institution started well over 200 years ago, in 1770. The baroque-style architecture of the family-owned department store is hard to miss as it sits on the corner of Norwich’s London Street and Exchange Street. Today the business has evolved well beyond its origins, encompassing a diverse portfolio of businesses and properties.

Laura London, Jarrolds Director of People and Culture
Laura London, Jarrolds Director of People and Culture

We spoke to Tom Burdett, Director of Finance and Strategic Operations, and Laura London, Director of People and Culture, about how Jarrolds’ history and culture has made it the unique brand it is today and what was behind their recent appointment of Alan Boswell Group (ABG) as the broker for their insurance and employee benefits.

LL: “Jarrolds started as a grocery and drapers in 1770, based in Woodbridge, Suffolk. From there, the business evolved into farming, and then, later on, printing.”

In 1840, with the expansion of the printing and publishing business, Jarrolds moved to the current site in Norwich. By the early 1900s the retail business had been established.

LL: “Over the years, the publishing side of the business fell away, so we now have the retail stores, plus Jarrold Training and Jarrold Facilities Management.

Tom Burdett, Jarrolds Director of Finance and Strategic Operations
Tom Burdett, Jarrolds Director of Finance and Strategic Operations

“I’ve always found the business interesting in this respect, as there are lots of fingers in different pies. We have quite a diverse portfolio.”

TB: “Even the current elements of the business have changed over time. When the printing side closed, that freed up a lot of land to be developed. So, we now have a lot of property [St James Place], and the facilities management business started off the back of that. Our retail website has also evolved massively as consumer habits have changed; allowing people to shop from us in the comfort of their own homes.

“And most recently, we purchased a logistics firm, which was an obvious progression alongside the retail business.”


It’s clear that diversification has been key to Jarrolds’ longevity, but there is an undeniable warmth to the Jarrold name and brand, which fosters a loyal following. What else has kept Jarrolds successful for so long?

LL: “We have very loyal customers; our reputation in Norwich and the county is well-known and well-loved. We’ve invested a lot into making our stores a social hub, a place to meet friends and spend a day, rather than just a shop.”

TB: “Absolutely. The Jarrolds store is moving away from being product-led and into being experience-led. The store itself is also part of the experience; it’s a beautiful building, and people really appreciate that.”

Tom is referring to the range of hospitality on offer to visitors of Jarrolds; with four restaurants, a wine bar, and a coffee shop, as well as regular book signings and beauty demonstrations among their events calendar, Jarrolds is a notable destination. Jarrolds’ ecommerce site has also evolved over time to offer access to more of their products, allowing customers to shop from the comfort of their own homes.

Jarrolds department store at Christmas


However, achieving diversification requires the support and commitment of both employees and stakeholders. With a workforce of over 360 individuals, how does the Jarrolds team ensure their involvement in this journey?

LL: “There’s definitely an understanding among the colleagues who work here that that’s [change] who we are and what we do. Change can be very difficult for some people, but we tend to find people understand what we’re trying to do.

St James Place
St James Place

“We always say that Jarrolds is big enough that you can be very successful and put your mark on Norfolk but small enough that we know each other, and we’ve got that closeness.”

TB: “That’s really important, I think, isn’t it? We always aim to be fair, transparent, and communicate well.”


Jarrolds has always had a strong presence in the community and that still remains a priority for the business. Where has that decision to invest in the local community come from?

TB: “I think it’s ingrained in our presence in Norfolk. We want to be a part of the community, and that feeling comes all the way down from the Jarrold family and has percolated through the business.”


“One of our values here is to ‘do the right thing’. With StoreFolk, for example, supporting smaller local businesses to give them a platform to grow felt like the right thing to do for our peers in the city who do retailing, and that also links to the charity work.”

TB: “It’s something we’re very mindful of; it’s not always about what will make us the most profit, but what is the right thing to do? It’s one of the reasons why Jarrolds is cherished as much as it is now, because it’s always had that mentality.”


Jarrolds have recently appointed Alan Boswell Group as the broker for their insurance and employee benefits across the business. How was the process undertaken and the decision made?

TB: “The retail and other aspects of the business had been relatively separate for quite a long time, but are now being managed more coherently. On the employee benefits side, in particular, there were some bits with different brokers, no broker, or renewing at different times of the year, so it was quite difficult to understand whether we were offering the right things.

“We wanted to look at things more holistically with a single broker and work out if we were getting value from what we provided. We sent out a formal tender and shortlisted three insurance brokers.”

LL: “When we met with Alan Boswell Group there was a warmth across the table. I could connect with the people we were talking to, and everyone we met was knowledgeable and confident in their areas of expertise.”

TB: “There was an energy behind the people we met [from ABG], and you could see that you’re not just going to let things roll forward each year. We felt that [ABG] would be tenacious on our behalf and make sure that we’re getting the right insurance at the right level and not just accepting what an insurer tells you.

LL: “The fact that [ABG are] local and also heavily invested in the local community was definitely a differentiator.

When we were looking at the panel of brokers, the fact that ABG aligned with our values and cared about the local community, was a key part in the decision, alongside the fact that [ABG] can offer all of the services we need under one roof, which will help us to get a consistent approach to the complexities of protecting our business.

As their broker, ABG will manage the insurance, risk mitigation, and employee benefits for the entirety of the Jarrolds portfolio. By entrusting us with this process, we can take an all-encompassing look at the insurance and benefits they already have in place to create a consistent approach across the Group which ensures Jarrolds are adequately protected and providing employees with appropriate benefits to support them.

Jarrolds department store
Jarrolds department store


In 2023, Jarrolds celebrated its 200th ‘Norfolk’ anniversary. While history shows us the secret to Jarrolds’ success is evolution and the adaptability of its staff, we won’t ask Tom and Laura to predict the next 200 years! How about the next 10 – 20 years?

TB: “There is no denying that retail is going through a challenging time, but we continue to invest heavily in the store to ensure it remains an anchor on the high street. The brand strength is incredibly high and we’re looking at how we can extend [the brand] into different areas. I won’t give any more away, but there is a lot to be excited about!”