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James, who has just turned 60, has opted to go it alone following his brother Edward’s decision to merge the reproduction furniture side of the business with furniture maker David Salmon. He has run the antiques division since the 1960s and will continue to operate under the name James Brett out of the extensive showroom at 42 St. Giles Street in the centre of Norwich.

Interestingly, the dealer is following in the footseps of his father Frank who bought out his brothers and sister after the First World War, and it is to Frank the business owes its post-war expansion and consequent international reputation.

The majority of James Brett’s trade is international, some 35 per cent with the United States and 35 per cent with Europe.

Recently we have lamented the decline of the traditional British antique shop so it is good to see such a venerable firm thrive.

The Norwich shop is the same size as it was in the 1920s and James still employs a team of five full-time, in-house restorers. ‘‘The trick is to maintain the enthusiasm, especially in these difficult times,’ he says. “After all it is really a way of life more than a proper business.”