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Next stop on the innovation journey was computers. The first was installed in 1957 to assist specifically with Mail-Order stock control, so that time-consuming procedures could be ruled out. In quick succession, all administrative duties were computerised and chain-stores integrated point-of-sale equipment, establishing a thorough system that could feedback sales figures nationwide by 1972. Although it was initially resisted, technology was soon embraced for minimizing the amount of scrupulous checks and controls Littlewoods employees would have to carry out in the stock room.


Over in the Pools division, Cecil helped design and commission optical scanners that could check up to 5 coupons every second by 1961 and in 1966 he introduced a state-of-the-art IBM computer to handle and process over 10 million people’s data. The following year, Littlewoods became the first UK company to install a character reading machine that could identify coupons through a special encoded sequence. These technological advancements meant that the once 10,000 person strong workforce was severed in half and even still productivity increased.  

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