John Bull & Co owner retires and announces closure of Bedford’s oldest jewellers

Bedford's longest-established jeweller is closing as owner, Keith Peryer takes early retirement

After trading in the town for over 200 years, the owners of John Bull & Co on St Peter’s Street have announced that the store will close for good when managing director Keith Peryer retires.

The shop, which is the oldest jeweller in Bedford, first opened its doors in 1817 and its closure will be marked with an ‘everything must go’ sale beginning at 10am on Saturday 5 November.

Among the bargains are two diamond rings, priced at over £60,000 each, which will have a 30% reduction, an 18-carat gold ladies Omega watch at £17,350 with 30% off and all jewellery – including diamond engagement rings – reduced to half price.

From High Street to St Peter’s Street

John Bull opened his first workshop at 49 High Street where he made clocks and pocket watches. The iconic ‘Bull Clock’ still hangs proudly above the site of the original store.

The iconic Golden Bull is a Bedford landmark

The shop relocated to larger premises St Peter’s Street in 1964, with Keith taking over as managing director in 1999 following a career that included stints at Garrard & Co and the fine jewellery department at Harrods.

In 2012 the Bull family sold the store to Keith, who continued in the role of manager and is a familiar face to many regular clients.

“I have met some wonderful customers over the years, many who have become friends,” Keith told the Bedford Independent.

“Our customers are very loyal and some families have shopped with us for three generations. Just recently we helped a granddaughter choose a wedding present from her grandparents who had been valued customers for years.

“When I shut the shop for a final time, it will be a sad day. The decision to close John Bull & Co has been very difficult and has taken a lot of thought, but it’s the right time.”

He said that the business had reached its natural conclusion and he was looking forward to spending more time with his family.

“It’s a very challenging time for retail stores,” said Keith. “Trading has changed and for many years we’ve been successfully selling online, which was especially important during the pandemic.”

Keith said he hopes their customers – old and new – will join them for the ‘spectacular’ closing down sale, to choose a piece that they can remember the store by.

“We don’t have a date of when the sale will finish or when the store will close – it will be when the last piece has been sold,” said Keith.

“We’ve already had a big response to the announcement, so I suspect we won’t get to Christmas. All pieces are available on a ‘first come, first served’ basis and we can’t reserve anything, so if you want something, you’d better get in the queue on Saturday.”

The John Bull & Co retirement sale will begin on Saturday 5 November at 10am.

All jewellery will be in the sale, with reductions of 50% across diamond engagement rings, coloured stone jewellery, bracelets, earrings, and necklaces.

John Bull & Co is located at 21 St Peter’s Street, Bedford, MK40 2PN.