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Len Coller dies aged 95

parkfurnThe founder of one of the South West of England's best known furniture and flooring retailers, Len Coller died on 29 May. He was 95.

Coller served as a tank commander in the 7th Armoured Division, better know as the Desert Rats, during the second world war and was NHS chief administrator for eight years after the war.

After a period as a mobile greengrocer, Coller was on holiday in Portugal when he found a dining set he wanted for the family’s kitchen. Back home, he received many compliments on the dining set from friends and neighbours and some even joked that if he ever went back to the shop, could he bring one back for them. The following year the family returned to Portugal, but this time in a lorry.

Sales of furniture soon overtook those of fruit and vegetables and Sandy Park Road Furnishers, as it was then known, came into existence in 1967. Coller handed the grocery round to his uncle Fred, while he sold the furniture during the day and delivered it during the evening.

During the 1970s, with the help of his son Deryn, the business expanded across the city before moving to Bedminster in 1977, where it remains today. In 1979 the success of the company attracted the attention of Combined English Stores which bought Park Furnishers but sold it back to the family for £1 just two years later with the company on the point of folding.

In 1994, after a period of semi-retirement, Coller retired from the business, handing it over to Deryn. His grandchildren Tim and James now run the firm. He was proud of Park Furnishers' support of sport in the city over the years, including sponsorship of Bristol Rugby and the Park Furnishers hot air balloons that can often be seen flying over the city.