Stephensons celebrates a century and a half in business

Barton Arcade Shops 1900_preview crop
Stephensons’ original shopfront in Manchester’s Barton Arcade.

Catering equipment dealer Stephensons is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year with the founder’s great-great-grandson – Henry Stephenson – at the helm. From its beginnings in Barton Arcade, Manchester, in 1868, Stephensons has grown to become a multi-million-pound family business.

It is also said to be one of the few businesses that can claim five generations of family involvement.

Since Henry’s appointment as MD in 2009, Stephensons has undergone immense change and expansion. Staff numbers have increased from 35 to over 100; 13,500ft2 of warehouse space has been added to cope with demand; and turnover has risen from £3.5m in 2005 to £14.7m in 2017/18.

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Henry commented: “2018 marks a monumental milestone for the business as we enter our 150th year of serving the hospitality sector. Since my great-great-grandfather, Henry George Stephenson, launched the business in 1868, we’ve strived to ensure his legacy of product innovation and customer service remains at the heart of what we do, which has undoubtedly been instrumental in our success.

“That said, I’m of the philosophy that although our history and heritage is what sets us apart, we cannot rest on our laurels. That’s why this year we’re launching an exciting new website, as well as unveiling our most extensive catalogue ever with over 2,500 new lines added.”

Starting out as a young man dealing china on Salford’s Flat Iron Market, Henry George Stephenson went on to become the first tenant in Manchester’s Barton Arcade in 1868. A prosperous city in the wake of the industrial revolution proved to be a prime location for a glass and china store, and through the turn of the century and into the 1900’s, Stephensons expanded significantly.

During this period, his sons entered the business, initiating the family legacy that remains today.

After surviving two world wars, nationwide strikes and an ever-changing commercial landscape, in 1967, Stephensons relocated from Barton Arcade to the current Kennerley Works site in Stockport.

Stephensons believes it still boasts the same ethos that its founder injected into the business 150 years ago – passion for the product, understanding of the market, willingness to embrace new trends and a desire to provide the customer with the best possible knowledge and in turn the best possible solution.

Henry concluded: “There may be 150 years separating my great-great-grandfather and I, however, the inspirational spirit and legacy he created still defines the business today. We’re excited for what the future holds for Stephensons as we embark on our next chapter.”

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Clare Nicholls

The author Clare Nicholls

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