ST IVES businessman Chris Johnson has celebrated half a century of continuous work with top English glove-maker Dents.

But those 50 years - or 73 if you include his father's work with the company, which began in 1938 - represents a fraction of the Wiltshire-based ladies' and gents' accessory manufacturer's more than 230 years in business.

Chris started with Dents a week before his 16th birthday in August 1961, and was based in various departments to learn the business properly before finally taking up his role as official agent for East Anglia and the Eastern counties.

Being an agent for Dents was not an easy job: before Chris was allowed to meet any customers he had painstakingly to learn all aspects of the company so that he was totally knowledgeable about the manufacturing processes and the final products.

He spent time in the leather selection department and also worked in the glove-making factory, learning to make leather gloves from start to finish.

"It was a different world then," he said. "There was more time to explain our products to customers so they could really understand all the processes that go into making a Dents glove and why they are so different - things were definitely not quite as rushed or hectic as they are today."

Dents' creative director Deborah Moore said that over the years Chris had become a true member of the Dents family and the firm's most successful agent ever among all the 43 countries in which Dents products are sold.

"He has given sterling service to both Dents and to all his customers across East Anglia," she said. "We know everyone who knows Chris would join us in thanking him for his contribution to Dents and to the fashion industry over half a century.

"It is a remarkable achievement - and we look forward to working with Chris for many more years to come."