AH Bull was a small department store in Reading, Berkshire. It was one of 15 other branches that joined the Partnership as a result of the acquisition of the Selfridge Provincial Stores Group (SPS) in 1940. Although some information is available in the archives about AH Bull, we are always on the lookout for more. Therefore, if you have any further information or photographs of AH Bull during its years in the Partnership, please feel free to comment below.
AH Bull joined the Partnership with a yearly turnover of £191,708 in 1939. Despite the shop’s proximity to London and the dangers that this brought in the turbulent years of the Second World War, sales were often good. In fact in early 1940, extra premises were purchased in order to increase selling space. The snippet below effectively highlights the impact of panic buying on store figures. Often, the context of the war directly determined the shop’s fortunes, a familiar story for most retailers during this difficult period.
Events and exhibitions
Like many other of the Partnership branches, AH Bull put considerable effort into running wartime events in-store. The purpose of these events was to increase public awareness about the war going on abroad, as well as the impact that it was having at home. Such exhibitions were also often used to raise funds for wartime charities such as the Red Cross. But most significantly for the Partnership, these events brought numbers into the shop, and the impact that this could have on sales was significant. For example, the Gazette of 20th March 1943 announced the opening of a ‘Paper Goes To War’ Exhibition at AH Bull. The Gazette declared:
‘The thousands of visitors who paid a visit to our shop to see this very interesting and instructive Exhibition will, we feel, understand better why there is such a shortage of paper for their parcels. They saw the various types of wrapping paper needed for the war effort and the amazing multitude of uses to which waste-paper is now put!’
These ‘thousands of visitors’ were the customers that helped businesses survive the harshness of the Second World War.