About Albert Harrison & Co Ltd

About Albert Harrison & Co Ltd

Established in 1919 in Lancashire, Harrisons Direct has a reputation for being specialists in wholesale distribution. Specialising in a large range of wholesale products including confectionery, health and beauty and stationery we supply popular wholesale brands to companies across the UK. A lot has changed over the years so we invite you to take a look at our proud heritage and learn more about the Harrisons Direct story.

  • Manchester Road, Accrington
    1919

    A young Hilda Coupe founded our firm with virtually no resources whatever – save for determination. From her parents tiny ‘front room’ in Manchester Road, Accrington which Hilda uses as a warehouse for her stock of smallwares having already established connections with shops/market traders in the local area.

  • Moses Coupe
    1921
    As trade develops, Hilda's father, Moses Coupe, joins her in running the business on a daily basis and the business moves into the back room at No. 2 Manchester Road, Accrington – more recently recognisable as the town's Police Station.
  • Harrisons Vehicles
    1925
    The business secures a vehicle but during the demonstration drive the vehicle overturns and Moses sustains head injuries leaving his memory permanently impaired and unable to continue in the business. Another passenger in the vehicle at the time of the accident was a young gentleman called Albert Harrison. Albert, aged 22, asked Hilda if she needed his help to keep the business going now that her father was incapacitated – which Hilda accepts.
  • Albert Harrison
    1926
    Hilda & Albert were married and a year later there was a new arrival on the scene when Cyril Coupe Harrison was born. Albert purchases the business outright from Hilda and it becomes known as Albert Harrison trading as M Coupe. Albert’s brother Richard joins the business and is often left in charge of the business when Albert is ‘out on the road.’
  • 1929
    The need for more space prompts a further move into 19 Warner Street which allows for the correct classification of stock along with designated packaging and despatch areas. Albert’s sister Alice joins the warehouse team and the first Sales Representative from outside the family is engaged.
  • 1932
    Very bravely for a tiny firm, Albert & Richard venture to Hamburg with the intention of buying toys directly from Germany. Sadly, the bold move into importing was to put the business in peril, for the government, without warning, imposes a hefty import tariff on German products whilst the vessel is on the ‘high seas.’ Albert says nothing of his commercial worries to anyone and works hard to avert bankruptcy. The late 1930’s saw Europe drawing relentlessly towards war and the business once again hangs by a thread. Richard was soon to be left with just a very small number of female staff as men were mobilised to serve their country. Turnover plummets as supplies are scarce and there is the added complication of clothes, soap & petrol rationing.
  • 1940
    The business is incorporated as Albert Harrison & Co Ltd.
  • 1941
    The Purchase Tax is introduced to meet the ongoing costs of the war and many “Registered Wholesalers” including Harrisons become unpaid tax collectors.
  • Cyril Harrison
    1945
    As the war ends, Albert returns to the business from the RAF. It is to Richard’s and Hilda’s credit that the company survives to a time where it is destined to blossom. Albert persuades his son Cyril and son-in-law Alan Cookson to join the business, giving up their careers in the accountancy and banking professions. As more staff return from the armed forces the business quickly begins to expand and cover a wider area. In the period after the war, the business expands its portfolio of products to include patent medicines, toiletries, stationery, toys and hosiery. Alan Cookson becomes the medicines buyer and Company Secretary whilst Cyril Harrison is designated Toy Buyer
  • 1949
    The business moves into larger premises on Union Street, Accrington.
  • 40th Anniversary
    1954
    The number of Sales Representatives peaks at 17. Richard’s son, Gerald, joins the company from school along with his mother, Marguerite. With the dramatic expansion of supermarket trading, this leads to a reduction in the number of smaller, independent retailers. The business changes direction as it turns its attention to servicing nationwide accounts. This development, largely through the efforts of Gerald, brought accommodation at Union Street to crisis point.
  • 50th Anniversary
    1965
    The business re-locates to Queen Mill, Queens Road, Accrington, a 22,000 sq ft level floor warehouse.
  • 1974
    The “3 day week” occasioned by industrial action with the restriction of power supplies throws businesses into disorder however the prompt installation of generators allows Harrison’s operation to continue without interruption. Cyril Harrison forms the buying group, “Fanfare” along with 15 fellow wholesalers.
  • 1978
    A BCL Molecular computer is installed and is the company’s biggest investment since the purchase of Queen Mill.
  • Cyril Harrison
    2002
    Cyril Harrison retires from the day-to-day running of the business and is made Chairman.
  • 2007
    An online ordering facility, www.harrisonsdirect.co.uk goes live.
  • 2010
    Along with 13 members, Harrison’s joins the STAGG Group to strengthen it’s stationery & toy categories.
  • SAP is Introduced
    2012
    SAP is introduced.
  • New Website
    2013
    New Harrisons Direct Website is launched.
  • Celebrating 95 Years
    2014
    Harrisons Direct celebrate 95 years of trading!
  • Introducing our Rewards Scheme
    2015
    Harrisons Direct introduce their new Rewards Program.
    Designed to reward their loyal customers for shopping with them. Customers can earn points every time they make a purchase, create an account or recommend a friend!
  • Introducing our New Website
    2016
    The new look Harrisons Direct website is launched!
    Providing a seamless shopping experience from start to finish. The new Harrisons Direct website features a new simplified and secure checkout process alongside personalised shopping recommendations just for you!
  • Red Rose Awards Finalists!
    2017
    Red Rose Awards Finalists!

    The Red Rose Awards celebrate the best of Lancashire businesses. After almost 100 years of amazing growth and unrivalled customer service, we thought it only natural that we try our luck.

    Our hard work paid off and we were announced as finalists in the Online Business Awards category. It wasn’t our year this year, but we were thrilled to be a part of such a prestigious awards ceremony. Watch out Red Rose Awards 2018 - we’ll be back!