A NEW business has opened its doors in the heart of a North Yorkshire market town.

Fashion country wear brand Fairfax and Favor opened in the former Nat West Bank building in Market Place, Helmsley, yesterday (April 4).

Set up by friends and founders, Marcus Fountaine and Felix Parker, Helmsley is their third shop - the first two being in Holt in Norfolk and Stamford in Lincolnshire.

They specialise in luxury boots and shoes for both men and women, inspired by country life and as a brand, want to pioneer 'rural vogue'.

"When people say retail is dead, I don't believe it. I say boring retail is dead," said Felix. "What we want to do is give everyone a really positive experience and I can't tell you how excited we are to be opening up in Helmsley.

"When we first visited we fell in love with the place and we are looking forward to working with other local businesses.

"As a business we're nine years old. We started a business together aged 21 and we have grown the company in that time."

Fairfax and Favor, which takes it's name from Marcus and Felix's own middle names, and employs between 75 and 100 people with the Helmsley shop accounting for between seven and ten staff.

Felix said: "The past years have been breath-taking. We started as two childhood friends who took the plunge; now we have over 30 full-time employees, a warehouse in Snetterton, Norfolk, numerous channels of business that range from online to shows, showroom to wholesale and new stockists flooding in.

"Back in 2017 we were elated when our Imperial Explorer was crowned the winner of Best New Footwear Product of the Year at the Shooting Awards; and, most recently, Fairfax & Favor was named Best Luxury Brand of The Year at the 2019 Direct Commerce Awards.

"From rickety beginnings in a bedraggled pop-up gazebo plopped in a field come rain or shine, our journey on the show circuit has helped shape who we are, and what we believe in today.

"Our remarkable, hard-working show team are now a dab hand on the circuit, demonstrated by their fabulous accolade, winning a Gold award for Best Trade Stand at the prestigious Badminton Horse Trials.

"We look forward to attending the Yorkshire Show again this year."

The Helmsley shop will be open seven days a week 10am-5pm from Monday to Saturday and from 11am-3pm on Sundays.

The redevelopment of the old bank was undertaken by chartered surveyor Jill White who has also created two services apartments above the shop.

The redevelopment of the old bank was undertaken by chartered surveyor Jill White who has also created two services apartments above the shop.

The building has been converted into 2 luxury apartments called The Pheasant and The Partridge which will accommodate up to ten people in total. 

Jill said she has had to overcome many challenges with a building once described as a "commercial slum" before it was bought at auction.

"The ethos behind all we have done is to use local suppliers and craftsmen, and where it has not been possible to use local then British and to also recycle or to use antique furniture and fittings, which adds to the history of the building," she said. 

"In The Pheasant hangs a silver chandelier that came from Bishop Auckland Castle and in The Partridge you will find a magnificent fire surround which once sat in the head office of British Waterways at No 1 Dock Street, Leeds."

The Old Bank Helmsley apartments are available to book here.