Creating Cornish links
The year 1940 is remembered by many in the John Lewis Partnership as one of the most important in its history. It was the year of the acquisition of the Selfridge Provincial Stores, and the year of the terrible bombing of Oxford Street. It was also the year that the Partnership forged a link with Cornwall!
Flawn flies the nest
For in that year, London dress manufacturer and Partnership supplier CA Flawn Ltd evacuated its premises in Moorgate, and relocated the business to two sites in Cornwall, St Ives, on the Atlantic Coast, and Redruth, situated in Cornwall’s industrial heartland.
Acquired by the Partnership
A couple of years later when Mr Flawn wished to retire from active service, the Partnership took over the company in order to provide itself with merchandise at a time of short supply. CA Flawns made Jonelle skirts, dresses, maternity wear, dressing gowns and overalls, and later began to manufacture some of the business dress ranges too. Flawn’s products could be found in the all of the department store branches.
Boosting St Ives
By the 1950’s, the Redruth site had been amalgamated with the St Ives site. Flawn’s, as it was locally known, was now ‘one of the principal all-the-year-round employers of local female labour in the town’, and in fact was a much needed boost for St Ives, which had struggled for a number of years off the back of the closing of the tin mines.
In 1961, after a brief but enjoyable stint in the South-West of England, the Partnership was forced to sell Flawn’s to a company by the name of Berkertex. The reasons for the sell were described as being down to
Changes in supply and market conditions and… the difficulty of operating a small factory at a distance of 300 miles [from the central offices]
Six months prior to the sale, Flawns had carried out sub-contract work for Berkertex. The same company went on to buy the business with the intention of expanding it and offering employment to all of its Partners. After around 15 years of business, the Partnership’s role in Cornwall had come to an end.