For animal lover Rose Knapp, a career working with furry, feathered and scaly companions was the obvious choice.
But when she started working at Pets Corner as a teenager in 1976, little did she know that four decades later she would be enjoying a surprise celebratory lunch to mark the milestone of working 40 years with the pet retailer.
The 56-year-old, who started out as a sales advisor at the company’s Haywards Heath store – the town where Pets Corner first started trading in 1968 – was taken for a surprise lunch at The Talbot Pub & Restaurant in Cuckfield, and presented with an all-expenses paid holiday to Cornwall to visit the Eden Project – one of Rose’s lifelong dreams.
Joining her for lunch were Dean Richmond, managing director at Pets Corner, his parents Mark and Sandra Richmond - who originally employed Rose – as well as director of staff development Stephen Holland and Sue Sayers, logistics manager, who have both been working with Rose for over 30 years.
Rose, who owns hamsters, fish, birds and a rabbit, said: “It was such a nice surprise and I’m thrilled with my holiday – I just need to find someone who can take care of my animals whilst I’m away!”
Throughout her career Rose has seen many changes, however, her reasons for choosing a life in retail remain.
Rose added: “You get to know the customers and their pets really well and they become friends. It’s a great feeling when you’re able to help them with a pet related problem.”
For Rose the expansion of the business has coincided with the growth of the family that founded it, as she has seen Dean go from a toddler to the “gentleman he is now.”
Dean said: “Our staff are incredibly important and are the reason why we enjoy such a fantastic reputation with our customers. Rose is the epitome of what we stand for – friendly, extremely knowledgeable, passionate about animal welfare and she always goes above and beyond to help her customers.
“Rose helped to train me in the early days and it’s amazing to still be working with her. She has seen a lot of changes in the pet business over the years, but is always open minded and enthusiastic towards any developments, particularly new products.
“I’m delighted to be celebrating Rose’s 40th year with the Pets Corner family and hope we can celebrate many more with her.”