Littlewoods is a company that has had a significant impact on Liverpool and the lives of its residents. The company was founded by Sir John Moores CBE, a well-known British businessman and philanthropist, and is most famous for its football pool company and mail-order business.
During the Great Depression, Littlewoods' mail-order business was a lifeline for families in Liverpool, providing access to affordable credit and household goods. Sir John Moores was shrewd in his choice of products, offering practical items such as blankets and towels, which was in stark contrast to other catalogues that focused on upmarket, luxury goods.
The turn club system of credit, where people would form clubs and each member would pay one shilling a week into the kitty, proved to be a massive success. This system generated instant cash flow for the business as poor families rushed to take advantage of the fair credit terms. By targeting the products to the needs of ordinary working-class families, Littlewoods grew from strength to strength.
Littlewoods.com continued to expand its mail-order business after the war, buying up smaller companies and becoming a vital part of Liverpool's commercial life. The company provided jobs to the population and supported the local economy. The company's move into the new 14-storey John Moores Centre in Old Hall Street was a relief for many in Liverpool, as it ensured that Littlewoods would remain in the city.
In the 1960s, Littlewoods adapted to the changing times, launching high-fashion sections in its catalogues to meet the demand for disposable, high-turnover fashion. This move allowed the company to remain relevant and profitable.
The retirement of Sir John Moores in 1982 marked a difficult period for Littlewoods, as high-interest rates and rising unemployment put pressure on the business. The company responded by trimming its expansion plans, reducing its workforce, shedding 2,200 jobs, and closing some of its retail stores.
Despite these challenges, Littlewoods remains a vital part of Liverpool's history and has played a significant role in shaping the city. The legacy of Sir John Moores is evident in the Walker Art Gallery's John Moores Contemporary Painting Prize, which is one of the country's most prestigious arts prizes. The imposing Littlewoods building on Edge Lane also serves as a reminder of the company's impact on the city.
In conclusion, Littlewoods is a company that has had a profound impact on Liverpool and its residents. Its founder, Sir John Moores, was a shrewd businessman who provided a lifeline to families during the Great Depression. The company's mail-order business and football pools became iconic, and Littlewoods remained a vital part of Liverpool's commercial life. Its legacy is still evident today, and the company's impact on the city's culture and economy will be felt for years to come.