The Acquisition and War Years at GH Lee

Fire watchers on the roof of GH Lee or Bon Marche, 1940-1944

Selfridge returns to America

With the upcoming threat of the Second World War, Selfridge made the decision to return to the relative safety of America. This led to the discontinuation of the Selfridge Provincial Stores. They were subsequently taken over by the John Lewis Partnership in 1940. At this point, GH Lee was now owned by the Partnership.

The ebb and flow of Wartime conditions

Whilst London suffered greatly during the war because of the evacuation of staff and customers, this was not such a factor in Liverpool. Business was affected both positively and negatively by the ebb and flow of wartime conditions. For example, the GH Lee Cotton Exchange had to be closed due to a lack of materials, much to the disappointment of many customers. However, on the other hand, activity at Liverpool port for merchant shipping greatly increased, as it was a safer alternative to existing, targeted ports.

Resources stretched

The demands and rigours of the commencement of outright war soon stretched resources and facilities, and had a direct impact on the everyday running of GH Lee. Workers wishing to assist the war effort directly, for example, by conducting A.R.P patrols, had to do so without negatively impacting the business.

Keeping calm and carrying on

Throughout the war, the partnership asserted the importance of continuing to work for the company. Partners not in service were frequently reminded of the significant role they were playing at home. Although not as obvious, nor possibly as glamorous as fighting on the front line, continuing to work in such adverse conditions was a fantastic way to stand up to the enemy.

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