Arthur returned to Lancashire to save his father’s failing firm. Then, the young entrepreneur moved to Manchester and used his profits to open his own shop in 1869, selling tea, coffee and sugar. The word ‘Bond’ was added to Brooke because he liked the sound.
Before long, the quality-conscious Brooke Bond and Company had shops in Liverpool, Leeds and Bradford. Weathering a depression at the end of the 1870’s the company found success in the wholesale as well as retail markets.
By 1892 growth was so phenomenal that Arthur launched Brooke Bond on the London share market. Unfortunately, tea prices dropped and the dividend plummeted from 15 to eight per cent, drawing Arthur from semi- retirement. But Brooke Bond fought back and turned its fortunes around.
In 1907, a decision to sell direct to the retail trade and use a national distribution system marked yet another turning point. Three years later, Arthur retired from a flourishing company and control didn't leave the family’s hands until the 1970’s when Sir Humphrey Prideaux took over from John Brooke as chairman.
Unilever bought the Brooke Bond Group in 1984.
The above article first appeared in the ACWS Newsletter, October 2002.