Introduction

Overseas dreams

It is clear that John Spedan Lewis had a desire to take his successful business overseas. His thinking behind this plan was to offer the business the security of as ‘many roots as possible’ by expanding the company’s operations and therefore offering Partners a multitude of extra opportunities and possibilities. Correspondence from the period suggests that serious progress was being made between the Partnership and firms in Canada and Australia, to whom the Partnership began shipping goods to. The following quotation was extracted from letters from the Partnership’s Canadian agents addressed to the Partnership. This was laid out by the Acting Director of Expansion in the 24th and 25th paragraphs of his routine report in his Memorandum 1158, and can be found in the Gazette of the 20th March 1948.

‘This firm have received your shipment…which we saw opened last night. These are magnificent, and both our customers and ourselves wish to congratulate you on the quality of the merchandise you have shipped’.

Despite this progress in Canada, by this point Spedan Lewis had already taken a gamble and acquired a shop in Cape Town, South Africa. This was his first physical step in establishing a base overseas.

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