KEYS to a historic shop have been handed over.

Northwich Art Shop on Witton Street has a new owner.

It follows fears that it may be forced to close after former owner Phil Bower decided to call it a day earlier this year.

However, Paul Johnson-Whittle has now taken the reins and is looking forward to the next chapter in the business’ story.

Paul said: “Northwich Art Shop has a 42-year history, which is quite remarkable for an independent art shop, and I feel very lucky to be able to play a part in continuing this.”

Northwich Guardian: Former owner of Northwich Art Shop, Phil BowerFormer owner of Northwich Art Shop, Phil Bower (Image: Supplied)

In January, former owner Phil launched a search for a new owner.

He feared the business may have to shut down if he couldn’t find a suitable replacement.

With Paul now at the helm, Phil is confident Northwich Art Shop is in safe hands.

He said: “I am so pleased to be passing the business into Paul’s hands.

“I have met so many wonderful people here over the last 10 years and I would like to thank all the customers and friends of Northwich Art Shop for their incredible support.

“High street retail is undergoing somewhat of a revolution; let’s keep our high streets alive and shop locally!

“Good luck Paul – have a blast.”

Paul grew up in Northwich and studied art and design at South Cheshire College in his early 20s.

He has spent the last two decades working in health and social care and adult education.

Having recently moved back to Northwich and arriving at a crossroads career-wise, the opportunity to take over Northwich Art Shop couldn’t have come at a better time.

Paul said: “It’s clear that I have big shoes to fill.

“Whilst I probably can’t ever hope to replace Phil in this role, I do intend to continue to run the shop in the same dedicated, friendly manner that people so clearly value.”

Northwich Guardian: The business officially changed hands on Friday (May 31)The business officially changed hands on Friday (May 31) (Image: Supplied)

On what he hopes to do with the shop moving forward, Paul added: “I would love to host workshops and events in Northwich. 

“Life drawing has been a particular focus for me in recent years, so if there is an interest in this, I’d be keen to see if it’s something we can facilitate on a regular basis.

“I have lots of ideas for one-off workshops, but my immediate focus needs to be in getting the basics right in the shop – to be honest, I’m still not sure which key opens which door!”

Northwich Art Shop is currently closed while Paul gets to grips with everything but is expected to reopen “as soon as possible”.