Warren Michell has owned and operated Narrabri Farm Centre for 32 years and recently decided it was time to step back, perhaps not to smell the roses, but to have more time for other interests.

Now he and his wife Chris have sold the business.

And they are delighted to find a local couple keen to continue the Narrabri Farm Centre.

Stephanie Lilliebridge and Brett Allison, both born in Narrabri, have bought the Farm Centre, the Eleanor Street mecca for customers ranging from town dwellers to hobby farmers and large scale farmers.

During his 32 years operating the Farm Centre, Warren has served many customers and made many friends.

His customers nowadays span the generations, with sons and daughters continuing patronage of the Farm Centre after their parents.

Warren originally moved to Narrabri to take a position with Aftrade in 1984.

Warren started with Fielders Farm Centre in 1987.

Warren and Chris took over the business from Fielders in 1988, changing the name to Narrabri Farm Centre.

It has been a satisfying and rewarding time.

Operating a local business offers the opportunity to contribute to the community in several ways.

“Since 1988 we have had many school kids work for us on Saturdays and during school holidays,” said Warren.

“After leaving school these young people have gone to university or a trade and all have achieved in their chosen careers. I believe we have given them a great foundation.
“We have also given many young people with disabilities a chance to work in a retail environment, helping them to develop many skills.

“We have had great support, help and advice from many Narrabri business over many years.

“From the day that we started the business up to now, their support and advice has been amazing.

“We have seen the good times and the challenging times like every business, high interest rates, droughts, but not so many floods,” said Warren.

“All businesses have been through tough years, but the seasons always turn around and there are big things happening nowadays in the Narrabri district.”

A locally owned small business is an important part of any community’s fabric.

“Your clients become your friends,” said Warren.

He is pleased a local couple Brett and Stephanie have taken on the business.

The couple have been familiarising themselves with the Farm Centre’s operations and officially take over on February 26 and the Farm Centre will trade under the new owners from February 27.

They are excited to be in business in Narrabri, a town and district they have always called home.

“It’s an opportunity to build a future for our family,” the couple said.

Long-serving staff member Gail Panton is retiring after 28 years of dedicated service to the business.

Warren’s thoughts have turned to retirement.

He and Chris have no firm plans but will take a break, with more time to visit family members in Brisbane, Newcastle and Dubbo.

They plan to ‘stay put’ – Narrabri is central.

“It’s not our plan to move anywhere.

“People have said ‘what are you going to do?’” he said.

“I have been programmed for business hours for the last 40-odd years – I will work out my new timetable later,” said Warren.

“People tell me it takes one or two years to get used to retirement,” he adds.

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