IN A year where most businesses are struggling to make ends meet, one Ilminster shop has doubled in size by moving into the empty unit next door.

PAWS Pet Supplies Shop has been in the town centre for more than two decades.

Earlier this year, the town's RNLI fundraising shop was forced to close down after the manager, Joan Olds, passed away.

Along with her husband Jim, Joan had raised more than £1million for the charity in her 30 years behind the counter.

Andrew Broom, the owner of PAWS, said: "It is a shame that Joan passed away and no one could take on the RNLI shop.

"We have had the shop for 25 or 26 years and we have always felt the town needed a bigger pet supplies shop.

"There are a lot of new things we are able to offer now - more fish and reptile type things, dog and cat bedding, baskets and carriers, and more.

"It has been a very good reaction. We are over the moon with how people have accepted it."

For years, Andrew and his team have provided deliveries to people in the local area, which has proven to be a lifeline for people and their pets during lockdown.

Andrew added: "We are still doing deliveries, around 50 to 150 each week, to a very wide catchment area - from Yeovil to Taunton, Axminster to Somerton.

"We have found that while lockdowns have been on people are having more deliveries, and we have had a lot of people get in contact for deliveries who have then stuck with us as they have been able to come into the shop later. We have no minimum order, and it is just £1 delivery charge."

As well as providing the pet supplies, Andrew's sister has a dog grooming business based in the back of the PAWS shop which is still running.

"Even through lockdown, Tracy has been able to continue doing that.

"The dogs come into our shop and we have a separate dog grooming area where my sister works.

Andrew was very moved that the town has accepted their expansion, and is keen to bring more people in to the heart of Ilminster for the other shops as well.

"We are all Ilminster born and bred, and we don't just want to see our shop doing well but the whole town thriving too," he said.

"While everyone else seems to be keen to put their prices up, we are always trying to bring them down, so we are not just competing with the internet but beating it."