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A Brief History of Wolsey

[Wolsey's models]

Wolsey's models make the company's "W"

Wolsey was founded in Leicester in the mid-eighteenth century by Henry Wood. When he died in 1768 his wife and sons carried on running the company. Originally producing stockings, socks and vests, they expanded to produce sweaters and underwear. Robert Walker joined as a partner in the 1840s and, following the retirement of Richard Wood, the company name was changed to Robert Walker & Sons. By 1883 this was the largest hosiery company in the Leicester region with goods exported world-wide.

When the company decided to change its name again in 1897, it chose the name Wolsey after Cardinal Wolsey whose body was buried in Leicester Abbey, near to the site of their main office. In 1910, the Company moved to new premises at Abbey Meadows, which are still the Company's headquarters today.

Wolsey managed to survive the depression of the 1930's, and many changes in taste and fashion. In 1967 the company became part of the Courtaulds Group, one of the largest textile companies in Europe, but by 1996, following a management buyout from Courtaulds Textiles, Wolsey once again became an independent Company - trading as Wolsey Limited. In April 2002 the company was bought by Matalan. This has been adapted from the Wolsey History at http://www.wolsey.com/pages/historyx.asp

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Last updated: 15/09/2011
East Midland Oral History Archive Web maintainer
This document has been approved by the head of department or section.