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Liverpool Picturebook

Sir John Moores Littlewoods

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Quote Originally Posted by BobEd View Post

Today we take mail order shopping for granted but in 1930s Liverpool unemployment was rife and obtaining credit was no easy matter for many cash-strapped families. John Moores' solution was to offer his customers a 'turn club' system of credit. The idea was that people would get together and form clubs and each member would pay one shilling a week into the kitty. Moores reckoned that one shilling a week was within the reach of the average family purse. Every week, one customer from the club would take their turn to receive their goods from the catalogue. The idea proved a success on all fronts, the system generated instant cash flow for the business as poor families rushed to take advantage of the fair credit terms. John Moores was also shrewd in carefully targeting the products he chose to the needs of ordinary working class families. At the time, many catalogues focused on selling upmarket, luxury goods but Moores decided to offer a range of practical items such as blankets, towels and other ordinary household goods. Those that had doubted the wisdom of launching a catalogue in 1930s Britain were proved wrong. John Moores' stroke of genius lay in writing to the 20,000 or so Littlewoods pool subscribers, inviting them to be catalogue agents who would collect payments and distribute the goods. This strategy saved the company thousands of pounds in publicity and the mail order company grew from strength to strength during the rest of the decade. Although the announcement of war in 1939 temporarily halted the company's growth as Littlewoods dedicated its resources to helping the war effort, post-war prosperity would see the company's greatest growth yet. Peacetime provided Moores with the opportunity to re-examine Littlewoods' mail order business, and he phased out the turn club system in favour of interest free credit and immediate delivery to customers as soon as they made their first payment. Littlewoods continued to expand its mail order business in the 1950s.
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