Greenwoods Menswear – Made In Yorkshire | Volume 2

What is Greenwoods Menswear?

Headquartered in Bradford, West Yorkshire, Greenwoods was a prominent menswear store chain in Yorkshire.

The Beginning

James Greenwood started his career as an apprentice to Mr Stringer Lake. Mr Lake was a milliner who owned a hat shop at 29 Westgate in the city centre of Bradford.

In 1806, Mr Lake disappeared and never seen again. This led to Greenwood managing the shop with the help of his son, Moses.

As part of a road widening scheme, the Government demolished the premises in 1865. James Greenwood gave the hatting business to his son who took over in the new premises.

Aaron, the other Greenwoods son, set up a rival business further along the same road.

Greenwoods Menswear suits.
Greenwoods Suits

Becoming what it is Today

Moses’ shop was prosperous and by 1903, extended into the unit next door. Around this time, Aaron retired.

To gain the business of men who work the regular trading hours, the shop increased its opening times. It would now open 8pm on Monday to Thursday, 10pm on Friday, and midnight on Saturdays.

Greenwoods did not have a half day closing which was unusual. They only shut their doors on Sunday, Good Friday and Christmas Day. Trading was illegal on these days until 1994.

In 1921, the shops expanded again to a corner position on Westgate. Walter Greenwood, who was born above the store in 1901, joined the family firm by becoming a partner in 1922 with his brothers Arthur and Harold.

Walter was the one who branched out, such as the London branch in 1925. Two years later, Walter went in a different direction, leaving behind his father and brother to run the original Westgate shop.

By 1932, Walter owned 26 shops situated across the North of England. After his father retired, he obtained the Westgate store and used it as his headquarters.

In the consecutive year, the company started trading as Greenwoods (Hosiers & Outfitters) Ltd, and purchased a dance hall in Drewton street which became their new headquarters and warehouse. By 1934, Greenwoods had increased to 36 stores. 

The business opened their 100th branch in Huddersfield in 1952. Four years later they set up their new headquarters at White Cross near Guiseley.

The number of shops increased to over 200 after the expansion and takeover. Greenwoods was successful until well into the new millennium.

In 2008, a Chinese firm wished to purchase a 50% share of the business. Whilst they were negotiating, the British Government underwent a a serious decline. This caused the business to enter administration in 2009.

Harvest Fancy Hong Kong purchased 87 out of the 92 Greenwood stores. The shops traded as Greenwoods and operated by the new headquarters on Shipley Airedale road.

This takeover saved five hundred jobs and kept the well established Yorkshire brand on the high street.

Greenwoods capability to adapt and transform helped them to survive throughout the years. They introduced their 1860 brand of clothing – a hire service for grooms, groomsmen and pageboys. This range included slim fit which is popular with the younger generation.

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 included 88 stores across the UK.

On the 2nd January 2019, all branches and online stores stopped trading after the business fell into liquidation.