THE boss of a carpet shop that has been open in Bradford for almost 40 years is calling on the people of Bradford to support independent stores to keep “quality shops in Bradford”.

Mick Ward revealed he was close to shutting his shop down - before performing a U-turn and investing in the store because he wanted to “keep a quality product in Bradford.

Mr Ward founded Connaught Carpets 39 years ago, came close to shutting up shop last year, but decided to invest £25,000 in his shop to give it a modern facelift.

He is calling on independent business owners to unite to keep quality stores in the city, and on Bradford’s citizens to support independents rather than chains.

Initially opened in North Street, Mr Ward moved his business to Manningham Lane where he has been based for the last 30 years.

But last year, he came close to bringing the store’s story to a close.

He said: “I’ve always been based in Bradford, but last year I put the shop up for sale.

“But after a while I thought, if we desert Bradford and close down, there will be nothing left in the city.

“We could have easily packed up and moved to Leeds but we wanted to stay and keep a quality product in Bradford.

“To keep top quality independent shops like this there is no point going to big companies, we can give you a better product, better service and better aftercare. The only way to keep these shops is through the support of the people.

“So I decided to upgrade the shop; I dropped the whole front of the shop and took it from a dated Victorian wooden front to a new modern aluminium design with high windows.

“Inside, we tore out quite a lot of it and replaced everything, we were looking quite tatty. Now, I might be a bit biased but I think its one of the nicest independent shops I have seen.

“I started 39 years ago with a little stall, but then came into Bradford to take on the big boys.

“We saw off Allied Carpets and we’re still here, and business is still going well.”

Mr Ward said he believes there needs to be real investment in Bradford from companies to turn the city around by bringing quality shops into the centre, not just “bargain bins”.

He also bemoaned the number of empty units in the city centre.

“I thought I’d had enough and was ready to call it a day,” he said.

“But then I looked around and saw what was happening in Bradford and I thought, ‘if I go, then that’s it for Bradford’. The city centre is in a right state.

“People need to realise Bradford is not a bad place to trade in and there are still decent shops left, but every independent shop needs support from the public, and we want other independent stores to join us and get together to put it right.”