Wolsey (clothing)

Wolsey (clothing)

Wolsey is one of the oldest textile companies in the world, having been established in 1755. The company, until the death of HM The Queen Mother, held two Royal Warrants for its services to various British Royal Households. The company is based in Leicester, in the English Midlands. Although the company maintains a large degree of independence, Wolsey is now owned by Matalan Retail Ltd, based in Skelmersdale in North West England.

The company’s name was inspired by Cardinal Wolsey who is buried near the company's factory. It is not known if the name is also a pun, based on the fact that many of the company's products are made from wool. The products today are aimed at the high-end, up-market sector.


The earliest records relating to the Wolsey business, show that one Henry Wood was trading in Leicester as a hosier in 1744. Several years later, in 1748 he went into partnership with a man called Job Middleton and they were later still joined by another man - John Wrightman in 1750. Sometime around 1755 Henry Wood dissolved the partnership as he wished to start his own business; Wood died in 1768 and his business was afterwards carried on by his widow, and then later still by his sons and then his grandsons, under the business name of Ann Wood & Sons. In 1842 Robert Walker became a partner and after the retirement of the last Wood family member, Richard Wood the name of the business was changed to R Walker & Sons.

The headquarters of the business was situated near to Leicester Abbey, which is the burial place of Cardinal Wolsey. To honour this connection the business established the trading name of 'Wolsey' and as such became one of the first brand names.

In 1920, R Walker & Sons merged with W Tyler and Sons and was soon re-named simply “Wolsey” and the business started to trade directly with retailers rather than through a standard wholesale network which was the normal business pattern at that time. The company expanded and began employing travelling salesmen to service the retail accounts and also began to advertise their products across the world.

As a result, Wolsey and its sister trading name of Cardinal became household names and then in 1935 the Company was awarded its first Royal Warrant.

In the 1960’s the business was forced to seek a merger as a result of massive changes in the retail world and became part of Courtaulds. At this time the firm traded under various trading names:
*Lyle & Scott,
*Tubbs Lewis,
*Taylor Woods,
*Wolsey of Canada,
*Wolsey Germany and
*Carl Guildstrand.

After its brief association with Courtaulds, the business left the Courtauld group to become an independent company again and later in 2002 the business was taken over by the Matalan group.

The name "Wolsey", is a registered trademark.

Modern products

Today, the company manufactures:

*Ladieswear including knitwear, tops, skirts and trousers
*Men's Underwear
*Men's Socks
*Men's Knitwear
*Men's Shirts
*Kingsize Clothing

External links

* [http://www.wolseyonline.com/ Wolsey website]

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