The History of Greenwoods Menswear & Where it is Now

What is Greenwoods Menswear?

Greenwoods clothing was a prominent menswear retail chain in God’s own county. After several attempts to save the business, Greenwoods Menswear is no longer open.

The Beginning

James Greenwood started his career by becoming an apprentice to a man called Stringer Lake. Lake was a milliner (someone who made hats), and owned a hat shop at 29 Westgate located in the city centre of Bradford, West Yorkshire.

In 1806, Lake had mysteriously disappeared and was never seen again. It was up to James Greenwood to keep the hat shop up and running along with the help of his son, Moses.

As part of a road widening scheme, the Government demolished the premises in 1865. This meant that James and Moses needed to find a new site for their shop. After finding somewhere and settling in, James passed on the hatting business to Moses who then took over.

James had another son called Aaron. He decided to set up a rival business further along the same road as Moses’ hat shop. Aaron called it Greenwood’s Suits.

Greenwoods Menswear suits.
Greenwoods Suits

Becoming what it is Today

Moses’ hat shop was prosperous. By 1903, he had extended his shop into the unit next door. Around the time Moses extended his shop, his brother Aaron retired and Moses took over Greenwood’s Suits.

The men who worked regular trading hours were unable to visit Moses’ shop because of its opening times. Moses decided to increase the shop’s opening hours to gain the business of these men. The shop would now open until 8pm Monday to Thursday, 10pm on Friday, and midnight on Saturdays.

At the time, businesses would often close for half a day. However, Greenwoods didn’t do this which was seen as unusual. They shut their doors only on Sunday’s, Good Friday and Christmas day. Up until 1994, it was illegal to trade on these days.

In 1921, Moses decided to expand the Greenwoods shop again. He moved it to a corner position in the same area – Westgate, Bradford.

Moses’ son Walter Greenwood, who was born above the Greenwood shop in 1901, joined the family firm. He and his brothers, Arthur and Harold, became a partner in 1922.

Walter decided that he wanted to expand the family run business. In 1925, he opened a branch in London.

Two years later, he decided that he wanted to go in a different direction. He left his father and brothers behind in London to run the original Westgate shop.

By 1932, Walter owned 26 shops across the North of England. After his father retired, he also became the owner of the Greenwoods Westgate shop and used this as his headquarters.

The following year, Walter began to trade the company under a new name. They were now called Greenwoods (Hosiers & Outfitters) Ltd.

Due to Greenwood’s success, they needed a bigger headquarters and warehouse. Walter found the perfect location not far from their shop in Westgate – a dance hall in Drewton Street which is a two minute walk away.

The business continued to expand. By 1934, Greenwoods had increased their number of shops to 36. 

In 1952, the company reached an incredible achievement – they opened their 100th branch in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. As the business was growing at a rapid rate, they needed to find a new headquarters. Four years later, they were headquartered at White Cross in Guiseley near Leeds.

After the expansion and Walter’s takeover of the family company, the numbers of shops increased to over 200. Greenwoods was a well known successful men’s clothing business until well into the new millennium.

In 2008, a Chinese firm called Harvest Fancy Hong Kong wanted to purchase a 50% share of the business. Whilst they were negotiating, the British Government underwent a serious decline. Greenwoods entered administration in 2009.

In total, Harvest Fancy Hong Kong bought 87 out of the 92 Greenwood stores. The shops continued to trade under Greenwoods and operated from the new headquarters on Shipley Airedale Road.

This business takeover saved 500 jobs and kept a well established Yorkshire clothing brand on the high street.

Over the years, Greenwoods was able to survive for as long as it did because of its capability to adapt and transform. An example of this is in 1860; they introduced their tailored clothing.

Tailored clothing was a hire service for grooms, groomsmen and pageboys. They kept up with trends with the younger generation by including a slim fit within their range.

For over 150 years they were a recognisable name on the British high street. They even became the second largest formal wear hirer in the UK.

In 2013, the Chinese company Bosideng completed the £4 million takeover of Greenwoods. This was to include 88 Greenwoods shops across the UK.

On the 2nd of January 2019, all branches and online shops stopped trading. Greenwoods fell into liquidation.