The History of Greenwoods Menswear & Where it is Now

What is Greenwoods Menswear?

Greenwoods Menswear was originally called Greenwoods Clothing. It was a prominent menswear retail chain in God’s own County.

Over the years, several attempts were made to save the business. However, none of these succeeded and Greenwoods Menswear is no longer open.

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The Beginning of Greenwoods Menswear

James Greenwood started his career by becoming an apprentice. He originally worked for a man called Stringer Lake.

Lake was a milliner – someone who made hats. He owned his own 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.


Eventually, they found somewhere and settled in. James then passed on the hatting business to Moses who then took over.

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

How Greenwoods Menswear became what it is Today

Greenwoods Menswear suits.
Greenwoods Suits

Moses’ hat shop would prove prosperous. By 1903, he had extended his shop into the unit next door.

Around the same time Moses extended his shop, his brother Aaron retired. Moses then took over Greenwood’s Suits.

The men who worked regular trading hours were unable to visit Moses’ shop. This was because the shop was only open while the men were working.

As a result, Moses decided to increase the shop’s opening hours. He could now gain the business of these men.

His new opening hours were: 8pm Monday to Thursday, 10pm Friday, and midnight on Saturday.

At the time, it was common for businesses to close for half a day. Greenwoods however didn’t do this which was seen as unusual.

They only shut their doors on Sunday’s, Good Friday, and Christmas Day. That was because 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.

Greenwoods was becoming increasingly successful. As a result, they needed a bigger headquarters and warehouse.

Walter found the perfect location not far from their shop in Westgate. This was a dance hall in Drewton Street which was only 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 had an incredible achievement. They opened their 100th branch in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire.

The business was growing at a rapid rate and needed to find a new headquarters. Four years later, they were headquartered at White Cross in Guiseley near Leeds.

The number of shops increased to over 200. This was after the expansion and Walter’s takeover of the family company.

Greenwoods was a well known successful men’s clothing business. Their success continued well into the new millennium.

In 2008, a Chinese firm called Harvest Fancy Hong Kong took an interest in the business. They wanted to purchase a 50% share.

Whilst they were negotiating, the British Government underwent a serious decline. As a result, in 2009, Greenwoods entered into administration.

In total, Harvest Fancy Hong Kong bought 87 out of the 92 Greenwoods stores. Their goal was to turn it back into the once successful menswear chain that it was.

The shops continued to trade under Greenwoods. They 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. For example, 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 hire in the UK.

Where is Greenwoods Menswear Now?

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.