In August, Chris Potter Country Sports will be celebrating 40 years as an independent retailer in Tunbridge Wells, GTN found out they were planning to mark the occasion…
Tell us about the landmark moments and key dates for the business
Chris Potter: Parvis Changizi was the man who gave me the confidence and encouragement to open my own shop in 1978. I was working for David Lowrie in Tonbridge when I became friends with Parvis, who guaranteed a loan from the bank for my wife Sue and I to open our own business. These were lean times and I borrowed guns from friends to put on the racks to bulk the look of the stock! Sue did all of the accounts and paperwork.
Who have been the big influences on your career?
I first went shooting at the age of 14 with my dad, shooting rabbits for the pot with a 410! For clay shooting, Pat and Babara Lynch helped me make the England and GB teams. Pat Lynch also helped me immensely in competitive shooting and became a great friend.
Cyril Adams from Texas taught me about English guns and is my lifelong friend and confidante.
In 1978 I met Bjorn Waktare the owner of Gunmark Limited, to open an account. I asked and he hesitated for all of 5 seconds and said ok! GMK are Beretta importers for the UK, so this posed to be a good combination as I became the biggest seller of Beretta guns in ten years in Europe.
How are you planning to celebrate 40 years in the trade?
We will be running promotions throughout August on Facebook and Instagram, so watch this space!
What changes have you spotted in the the industry over the past 40 years?
The biggest change is the drift away from side by sides and the use of fibre cartridges accounts for more than 80 per cent of sales now. More ladies and youngsters are taking up clay shooting.
How has business been over the past couple of months?
It has definitely been quieter over the last few months mainly due to the weather and Brexit, where people are unsure of what will happen. I am looking forward to the game season when sales will pick up.
Have you got anything new to share with the readers in the shooting world?
We are receiving the new Beretta SL3 which will be a very exciting gun and a new model Salvinelli will be arriving, where we will have two anniversary guns for sale.
We will also have a new range of guns built especially for ladies from Beretta, Browning, Perazzi and Cesar Guerini, which means we have guns now in stock that will fit correctly. We are proud to be the exclusive UK importers of Salvinelli, Briley and Hi Scorer.
What are your plans for the future?
I have no intention of retiring. When I do, I know my business is in the safe hands of Dionne Rogers who has been with the Company for the last 35 years.
In 2003 I sold the business to Charles Harris who lets us run the business as it has always been run. We are very lucky to have a great team right now and I appreciate them very much, past and present.