Kings Stationers - Art Stock, Paper, Scissors

Popular Hastings based Art and Stationery supplier Kings Stationers explains how support from Locate East Sussex helped it to access vital funding enabling a ‘greener’ and cost efficient refit of its new premises.


The roots of Kings Stationers date all the way back to the late 1870s when Catherine King and her husband Waller Maber started a tobacconist and news shop on what would become Kings Road, St Leonard’s on Sea.

"I knew even less about Art than I did about stationery shops, but being the only one in town, I couldn’t let it just disappear - there had to be an opportunity there."

Roger CuthbertOwner of Kings Stationers

Kings Stationers

Case Study
Kings Stationers
August 2022

Staying in the family for decades, and evolving into printing and stationery supplies, in 1913 the business was registered as a limited company and named Kings Bros & Potts Ltd. Continuing to grow, the shop was then divided, remaining as an Art Supplies business in Kings Road, and taking on a separate unit in Alexandra Parade for the office supplies and stationery side.

In 2015 the owner Graham King took the decision to retire, and sold the business to local family friend Roger Cuthbert. With a background in office supplies having worked 17 years in the industry as an operations director in London, and looking for a new challenge, the stars seemed to align for all involved.

“I was confident in dealing with commercial office supplies, but retail and art were not my strong point. Veronica wanted to continue with the art shop herself, so I sold that part of the business back to her for just a £1. I had originally also planned to wind down the shop side after 12 months, but Graham warned me that it was a  vital part of the business, and I came to discover that to be the case.”

Roger Cuthbert, Owner, Kings Stationers

After 12 months Veronica King made the decision to close her art store, but Roger couldn’t let it disappear completely. Bringing everything together under one roof – art supplies, stationery, office supplies and packaging – demonstrated to Roger how different audiences interacted with the products, and what he needed to do to provide the best experience for his customers.

“The art side was much more tactile. People wanted to be able to touch and see all the products, to find the right texture paper, or the exact shade of colour. It wasn’t the same as office supplies, which is much more functional. The experience side of retail is important, it makes a physical space stand out from what you get purchasing online, it creates and stimulates passion.”

Deciding they needed more space to showcase their products, Kings Stationers purchased new premises, just a few doors up from their previous shop. This increased the floor space by 50%, allowing them to expand their art section further with a fuller range of products.

“It was an ideal time to make a change. The commercial office market is under increasing pressure, paperless offices are incoming, and the industry as a whole is quite archaic. Meanwhile the art market has seen an increase in popularity, people are taking up new hobbies, or revisiting old favourite pastimes. We needed to be able to adapt to suit the changing times.”

Roger Cuthbert, Owner, Kings Stationers

Kings Stationers, Hastings
Kings Stationers, Hastings
Stationary and art supplies, Hastings
Kings Stationers, Hastings
Stationary and art supplies, Hastings

Turning Green

Whilst this new space provided opportunity for the business, the building itself needed some investment to get it to where Roger and his wife Debbie wanted it to be. The shop had originally been fit out in 1968 so lacked energy efficient glazing and heating, something that is important when selling paper as it should be kept at a consistent temperature and protected from UV rays to avoid discoloration.

Roger had already set in motion plans to install a new heating and cooling system into the ceiling, replacement windows in the storefront and UV film for the new windows when he sat down with Business Manager Emily Wright from Locate East Sussex. Locate East Sussex are a business support organisation that support businesses in East Sussex or looking to move into the county with advice, access to funding, and help finding commercial property. Emily was able to connect Kings Stationers up with the Low Carbon Across the South and East Programme (Locase), who offer grants from £1,000 to £10,000 for businesses completing projects that will improve their environmental impact. Kings Stationers with the assistance of Emily, were successful in obtaining a grant of £5,000, providing vital funds to help it complete its renovations.

“Emily is a little ball of enthusiasm. We have known each other for a long time, and I trust her judgement. She has infectious enthusiasm, and is such a likeable person. She makes everything personal, cuts through any perceived barriers, and really cares about what she does. She knew I was on a tight deadline, but she pushed and pushed, and together we made it happen. I know of several other businesses that she has helped, that definitely wouldn’t have accessed that funding without her.”

Roger Cuthbert, Owner, Kings Stationers

“We pride ourselves on offering value for money. It’s not about being the cheapest, it’s about a quality product and most importantly quality service – that’s what makes people come back. Anyone can sell a stapler, and anyone can sell it cheap, but that’s not the way we want to do business. We will sell a product for a fair price, and our customers know that if there is ever a problem we will deal with it. Reputation is everything, it’s what helps us build relationships.”

With the renovations now complete, walking into the cool, clean, airy shop is a gratifying experience. Colour jumps out at you from every corner, and the welcoming smile from both Roger and Debbie reassures you that quality and great customer service is the mission this business seeks to accomplish.

Kings Stationers – The Future is Together

The pandemic has impacted the business on the commercial side, but the wonderful thing about Kings Stationers is they supply a lot of local businesses, so despite some scaling back on the size or frequency of their orders, it continues to be an important part of the local economy. Hastings has nothing else like it, and with a growing artistic community, it remains an ideal location for Kings to call home. That hasn’t however, stopped Roger from thinking about the future.

“The shop has to be more than something people come into, buy something and go – we want to make ourselves into a hub, working with local art groups and colleges to offer added value to our customers”

Looking to turn the shop into an Art destination, they plan to offer regular free demonstrations from local artists and creatives showcasing techniques and styles to help others looking to improve their skills. They are also planning on providing some gallery space where artists can sell their artwork, with a small commission being paid to the business. Roger recognises, that whilst he has 4 distinct businesses all under the one roof, they all need special attention, and most importantly each other, to succeed.

If you are hoping to make your business ‘Greener’ and would like to explore funding options available to you, then please do get in touch.

For support and advice on how to progress with your business goals get in touch and one of our team will contact you to discuss you needs.