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Our Story

  • 1919
    Manchester Road, Accrington
    1919
    A young Hilda Coupe founded our firm in her parents tiny ‘front room’ in Manchester Road, Accrington. Hilda used this as a warehouse for her stock of smallwares, having already established connections with shops/market traders in the local area.
  • 1921
    Moses Coupe
    1921-1925
    As trade develops, Hilda’s father, Moses Coupe joins her in running the business daily. The business moves premises and secures a vehicle but during the demonstration drive the vehicle overturns and Moses sustains head injuries, leaving his memory permanently impaired. A young 22-year-old Albert Harrison was the passenger in the vehicle at the time of the accident and he asks Hilda if she needs his help to keep the business going – which Hilda accepts.
  • 1926
    Albert Harrison
    1926 - 1929
    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, with Albert’s brother Richard also joining the business. The need for more space prompts a further move, Albert’s sister Alice joins the family business and the first Sales Representative from outside the family is engaged.
  • 1940
    Albert Harrison
    1940 - 1945
    In 1940 the business is incorporated as Albert Harrison & Co Ltd. The purchase tax is introduced in 1941 to meet the ongoing costs of the war and many “Registered Wholesalers” including Harrisons become unpaid tax collectors. As the war ends, Albert returns to the business from the RAF and it is to Richard and Hilda’s credit that the company survives. Albert persuades his son Cyril and son-in-law Alan Cookson to join the business and as more staff return from the armed forces the business quickly begins to expand and cover a wider area. The business expands its portfolio to include medicines, toiletries, stationery, toys, and hosiery.
  • 1949
    Albert Harrison
    1949 - 1954
    The business once again moves into larger premises on Union Street, Accrington. The number of Sales Representatives peaks at 17 and Richard’s son, Gerald, joins the company from school along with his mother, Maguerite. The business changes direction as it turns its attention to servicing nationwide accounts, some of whom we still work with to this day.
  • 1965
    Albert Harrison
    1965 - 1974
    The business re-locates in 1965 to Queens Mill, Accrington, a 22,000 sq. ft level floor warehouse – it’s home for the next 53 years. In 1974 the “3-day week” occasioned by industrial action with the restriction to power supplies throws business into disorder, however the prompt installation of generators allows Harrison’s to continue operating without interruption.
  • 1976
    Albert Harrison
    1976 - 1979
    Cyril’s daughter, Elaine, joins the business in 1976 which sees her employed until April 2009. In 1978 a BCL Molecular computer is installed and is the biggest investment since the purchase of Queen’s Mill. Cyril also forms the buying group, “Fanfare” along with 15 fellow wholesalers.
  • 2002
    Albert Harrison
    2002
    Cyril, aged 72 retires from the day-to-day running of the business and is made Chairman. A new team of Directors, namely Alan Sanderson, Elaine Hardy (Cyril’s daughter) and Frank Burrows is formed.
  • 2007
    Albert Harrison
    2007-2011
    Our first website, www.harrisonsdirect.co.uk is launched in 2007 allowing customers to order online.

    In 2010, Along with 13 other members, Harrison’s joins the STAGG Group to strengthen its stationery and toy categories. A new Management Team consisting of Paul Sanderson and Cara McKenna, overseen by Chairman, Graham Harrison is implemented in 2011. The team will be extended further over the next 8 years to include a Head of Buying, a Business Development Manager, an IT Manager, and a Warehouse Operations Manager.
  • 2012
    Albert Harrison
    2012 - 2015
    SAP Business One replaces the company’s existing operating system in 2012, which allows for internal processes to be streamlined from accountancy and CRM to supply chain management. In 2013 we collaborate with a new digital agency, icansee, and the company website is overhauled and relaunched on a Magento platform. During 2015, annual turnover exceeds £5 million and Harrison’s are awarded the Feefo ‘Gold Trusted Merchant’ award by having a customer approval service rating of 4.5 or above – this has been awarded annually ever since. A new rewards program is introduced to allow returning online customers to benefit from their loyalty and online sales exceed £1 million as the company begins the process of looking for new, larger premises.
  • 2016
    Albert Harrison
    2016 - 2017
    The Harrisons Direct website is refreshed and as well as many new features it includes an improved checkout process. Harrisons enters the prestigious Lancashire Business View Red Rose Awards for the first time in 2017 and are selected as finalists in the Ecommerce Business Award category. Despite not claiming the top prize, the team enjoy an evening of good food, fun and entertainment at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool. In May 2017 new premises are identified and, in the September, a 15-year lease is secured on a unit at Shuttleworth Mead Business Park in Padiham.
  • 2018
    Albert Harrison
    2018
    The business relocates to Padiham on 18th January 2018 to a purpose built, fully-digitalised 28,000 sq. ft warehouse complete with re-fitted offices. With a working height of 7m, the new premises are 2.5x larger than Queens Mill. In March, the company is awarded top prize in the Ecommerce Business Award category at the Lancashire Business View Red Rose Awards, once again held at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool.
  • 2019
    Albert Harrison
    2019
    The business celebrates 100 years of trading with a ‘golden coin’ competition for its customers. An evening event is held at the Fence Gate Inn and in excess of 150 people attend including the Harrison family, staff from past and present, suppliers and customers. This milestone couldn’t have been possible without the hard work and dedication of countless individuals and the ongoing support of our many customers and suppliers. Annual turnover reaches £7 million.
  • 2020
    Albert Harrison
    2020
    A new website is launched in February on the latest Magento platform and further embraces a seamless online shopping experience for customers. The reward program is discontinued and, in its place, an EDLP (everyday low pricing) strategy is implemented. This sees hundreds of prices drop across all categories. Instead of being an entrant, Harrisons sponsor the Small Business Award category at the Lancashire Business View Red Rose Awards which are held in March.

    Following a virus outbreak in China, later identified as COVID-19, the World Health Organisation declare a global pandemic. Borders are closed and countries are thrown into turmoil when on March 16, the UK Government introduces a nationwide lockdown; businesses are forced to close, and all non-essential contact and travel comes to a halt as they try to curb the spread of the virus. As a distributor of key product categories, the company remains open, albeit on a much-reduced workforce, however its travel and hospitality customers are significantly impacted. The company continues to invest in efficiencies and in November, Magento becomes integrated with SAP and the company’s carrier network. Despite the significant interruption to business, the company retains turnover at £7 million.
  • 2021
    Albert Harrison
    2021
    The new year starts with England in its third lockdown, and this continues until April when restrictions are slowly eased over many months. New product categories are introduced which includes extended BBQ and Camping, Gardening and Outdoor Furniture ranges along with a first for Harrisons, larger outdoor toys supplied direct from the manufacturer.

    A soft refresh is undertaken on the company website to further improve design and functionality.
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