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John Moores (1896-1993):


A lifetime of lessons can be inherited from John Moores. From rags to riches, his story is one of foresight, determination and diversification born of his own life experience. What’s most clear about John after reflecting on his life is the complexity of his character, he was constantly learning from those around him which undoubtedly shaped who he was. While his mind was malleable and seeking expansion, his morals were rigid, perhaps even dogmatic. For John, honesty, integrity, equality and opportunity were the beating forces of his businesses, but overriding all of these values was plain and simple hard work. He was often caught saying ‘the ordinary man and woman can do anything’. Although each person he met seemed to perceive him differently,  crucially, he made a lasting impact on many of them in distinct ways: his belief in himself and those around him was infectious and unrelenting. 

John Moores, born on 25th January 1896 in Eccles, Manchester, was the eldest son in a family of eight.  For many generations, the men in his family had been bricklayers. They were typical working-class Lancastrians who worked hard but weren’t granted many opportunities to improve their financial situation. Louisa, John’s mother, held a special place in John's heart and his mind. When his father turned to drink and his behaviour became increasingly abusive, John acquired many of his responsibilities, ultimately becoming ‘The Man of the House’. At the age of 12, John took on his first paid job doing a milk round to support the household. Gradually his sisters were employed and contributed to Manchester’s booming textile industry, and John became a telegraphist attending night school and additional courses to climb the ladder. When his father passed away, John reflected on his life choices and pledged to ameliorate his failings: he would look after his mother, use his brain and not turn to drink. 


Years later, through the popularity of the Pools business, Littlewoods would become a national institution. John enlisted the help of several family members, particularly his brother Cecil, who would become John's right-hand man. When John started the mail order business in 1932, he left Cecil in charge of the Pools. Following their first forged coupon (1928), it was Cecil who devised a security technique that would prevent this problem from increasing. Instead of coupons being sent directly to Littlewoods, they would be mailed to the Post Office and stamped with a time and date when they arrived. John's sisters, Hilda, Lou and Edna, also worked for Littlewoods in various capacities. Following the forgery, Hilda was made Chief Supervisor and Lou and Edna, assistant supervisors - John could trust them wholeheartedly. Moreover, his younger brothers Arthur and Charlie were introduced to his new venture, a printing mill, which by the 1950s would be producing 10,000,000 coupons a week.  

The nineties marked the cessation of Littlewoods reign. Just as the company grew into its old age, so did John, Cecil and many other founding figures. Some might say that mechanisation marks the decline of the Littlewoods empire, in fact, this just sparked revitalisation and marked innovation. Cecil retired as Chairman from the Pools in 1979, he held the post of President until his death in 1989 after a long struggle with his health. A few years later, in 1993, John passed away at home in Freshfield, Formby, where he had lived for over 60 years. A public ceremony was held in the Liverpool Anglican Cathedral, following a family funeral in Southport, attended by 1,500 former Littlewoods employees. What Cecil and John created was a sense of familial belonging among their employees which echoed through generations and is a reason why Littlewoods remains in the hearts of many families across the country.  

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