In 1860, Henry George Stephenson moved from the North East of England down to Manchester. He rented a stall on what was then known as Salford Flat Iron Market and began selling pottery made by Wood and Sons. In 1868, H.G. Stephenson moved into the newly built Barton Arcade on Deansgate. suppling such famous names as Doulton, Wedgwood, Aynsley, Woods, Maddocks & Thomas Webb Crystal, alongside our own ranges of pottery sourced in France. Retail shops were purchased in Manchester, alongside a site in Lytham St. Annes; very fashionable amongst the Victorians for their summer holidays. It was at this time that H.G. Stephenson began to look to commercial operations. 1900 saw the company registered with Companies House. Business continued to thrive up until the advent of the Great War, which brought a recession and severely limited supply due to lack of labour & diversion of product for the war effort. The recession of the 1930s forced the closure of all but the Barton Arcade shops & the steadying hand of Ernest Stephenson, the 6th son of H.G. Stephenson, kept the company afloat through difficult times. Having come into the business in 1932, Harold Stephenson, the third generation, joined the army at the start of the Second World War and was sent to fight out in Burma.
In 1943, the business was forced to close for the remainder of the war. Re-opening in 1945, supplies of anything more than plain white earthenware & basic glass remained limited. Stephensons retail shops were sold off to Lawleys (now lost in the Waterford Wedgwood group) in 1961. Michael Stephenson, current Managing Director, joined in 1963 & focused much of his attention developing a full product range suitable for the catering & licensed trades. The need to improve efficiency, through increased warehousing on one level, prompted the move from Barton Arcade to our current premises, Kennerley Works, in 1968. Through the 1970s & 80s, we developed our strength with the independent trade, alongside servicing some significant national brewery contracts including Boddingtons, Greenalls, Yates’ Wine Lodges, Scottish & Newcastle and others. The 1989 Beer Orders changed the on-trade landscape for good and through the industry consolidation of the 1990s, the company concentrated its efforts developing strong relationships with regional brewers including J.W.Lees, Frederic Robinson & Daniel Thwaites, this in addition to growing our presence in the independent on trade & sectors such as education, hospitals, care homes & leisure.
The 5th generation has since entered the business: After seven years working in London for companies including Ernst & Young & Computacenter, Julian Lewis-Booth joined in 1998, followed by Henry Stephenson in 2005. Henry spent five years at Sainsbury’s, latterly as Senior Buyer for spirits, then two years in the whisky industry at William Grant & Sons prior to joining.