A LONG-held ambition has been fulfilled for an Andover man who has launched his own business.

Paul Ballantyne has opened the doors to Andover Bathroom Collection, in Weyhill Road, after working in the industry for over two decades.

The family-run business welcomed its first customers last month.

Paul said: “I have been in the industry for over 20 years working for other people and I thought it was time to take a leap into the known and to do it for myself.”

He had previously been in talks about two other units but said that the family are pleased with the premises they have now secured.

“The opportunity came up with the help of Stratfords. The location was great, and the time was right, it has just been this year that everything has fallen into place.

“I could have been in some little grey box trying to encourage people to come in but being on Weyhill Road it is like free advertising.”

The dad-of-one and his family have put hours of work into making the showroom look picture-perfect.

“We started work here in June and we have been putting walls up ever since. It was just an empty shell so we had to rebuild.”

But the 42-year-old said that the move has been worth it, with customers eager to view the selection on offer.

“It has been very busy ever since we put the signage up as people wanted to know what was going on, we have had people knocking on the door even before we opened.

“I think there was a need for something like this. Andover is on the up.”

And talking about the move from working for someone else to now running his own business, Paul said: “It feels normal, I get up and go to work in the same fashion, but it feels different as this is my hop.”

On November 23, MP for North West Hampshire Kit Malthouse visited the store to officially open the business.

Mr Malthouse said: “It is an extremely brave and courageous thing to do, to make the financial risk but also to put yourself and your product out there to hope that people will come and support you.”

And talking to Paul, Mr Malthouse added: “You are the salt of the earth, backbone of the British economy and we congratulate you and say thank you for adding to our retail opportunities in the area.”