The History of Halon Menswear
The original shop founded in Manchester in 1905 by Wolf Halon
Halon Menswear was founded in Manchester in 1905 by Wolf Halon. Originally he made hats, caps and shirt collars-back then shirts had separate collars and decided to start retailing the items he made himself. The original shop was destroyed in 1940 in the Manchester blitz.
Wolf Halon had built up a chain of five shops by the time he died in 1938 at the age of 58. The next generation of three brothers based in Manchester built up the business to a maximum of 26 shops by the 1970s, with a 4th brother running a London branch. The London branch was located at 91 Baker Street before relocation to 122 Edgeware Road. The Manchester empire started expand to the Manchester suburbs and towns outside Manchester, then along the A62 and A49 roads.
The A62 route (which became the M62 route after the motorway was built) included Oldham, Halifax, Leeds and finally two shops in Sunderland. The A49 route included Warrington, Chester, Shrewsbury, Cheltenham and Gloucester. The Shrewsbury branch was purchased as a going concern in 1951. Back then a van could deliver to Shrewsbury whilst en route to Cheltenham and Gloucester and it would have been a major expedition in a 1950's van to Gloucester from Manchester via four other towns. Winter must have been a nightmare, cross ply tyres, no heating and no 0-60 times as the van could not reach 60!
The head office was based in Portland Street in Manchester before moving in 1959 to a warehouse at the back of the Oxford Road Manchester shop. The Oxford Road branch opened in 1938 (there was a shop across the road for two years before that). The branch survived the Manchester blitz even though the Palace Theatre just down the road was hit. The Manchester branches were located at Oxford Road, Portland Street, Cannon Street (this closed as the Arndale was being built and the rents in the Arndale too expensive in the 1970's to relocate-some things don't change), Moseley Street (this shop was pulled down in the early 1980s to make way for new offices- this office block has recently been demolished and replaced with another new office block and finally there were two shops on Deansgate, one stocked casuals and one had suits and jackets.
There was a shop in Cheetham Hill Manchester which was there for decades. The assistant manager who had worked at the shop for years was promoted to manager when the manager retired. In his first week as manager the shop was broken into via the roof. The roof was secured and whilst the remaining repairs were being organised the shop caught fire (the electrics in the roof had been damaged) and the shop was totally destroyed. We still have an old hat stretcher which was about the only thing salvaged from the shop, it still works even though one side is a little charred.
The shops surrounding Manchester included Southport, Darwin, 2 shops in Bolton, Stockport which at one point had 2 shops and Ashton under Lyne. The Ashton branch was the busiest shop of all the shops. It was a corner unit with one side leading to the main car park with the road at the front leading to the bus station.
In 1979 an offer was made to the three brothers for the business, as they were all over 60 it was decided to sell the majority of shops to Combined English Stores. Sadly many of the shops which were sold soon closed as the new owners decided they did not need experienced staff and offering excellent customer service was too old fashioned.
After 1979 the business was taken over by the third generation, Wolf Halon's grandson William Halon. He ran four shops to start with. The Oldham branch closed in 1984. This branch had relocated to a new precinct as the town centre was being redeveloped , but due to the economic situation the development stopped and the shop was in an unfinished precinct. The old successful shop was closed and pulled down to help improve the town only for the new shop to end up failing. In 1985 the Warrington branch in Horsemarket Street was subject to a compulsory purchase order, rather than relocate and risk the same problems that happened in Oldham it was decided not to relocate.
For the next 19 years the business traded with the Oxford Road Manchester branch and Shrewsbury. In the early 1990's the Manchester shop had a big refit with the sales area being made twice the size. Whilst trade was still good, when the Trafford Centre opened there was a significant fall in customer numbers especially on Saturdays. The regular customers still supported the shop but we missed the extra passing trade. The shop rent then doubled to a just about affordable level and five years later it was to tripple. Having looked to relocate in Manchester we could not find an affordable unit, so in 2004 the shop closed after 66 years in Oxford Road and 99 years of being based in Manchester. This just left the High Street Shrewsbury branch still trading.
The Shrewsbury branch was bought in 1951 as a going concern from Mr Geoffrey Newton Davies, trading as G N Davies. He had managed the menswear shop Affords who were based on Pride Hill before buying the business in 1949. He had only owned the business for two years when, due to ill health, he sold the business to Halon Menswear. Mr Davies bought the business from Vickery's. They moved to 46/47 High Street in 1929 when they relocated from 38 High Street . They needed to move from no 38 as the department store Della Porta, who were based in The Square at the time, wanted to build a new large store which eventually became the House of Fraser. Since 2004 the Shrewsbury branch has become more and more successful. All efforts have been concentrated on the one shop with our suppliers and manufacturers producing great ranges for us. Thanks to the BID and all others who help promote Shrewsbury, the town itself has progressed when other town centres have declined. Having two websites halonmenswear.co.uk and halonmenswear.com bring Halon Menswear into the 21st century enabling the Halon brand to reach a whole new audience but visiting the shop still offers our fantastic customer service that we have always been known for.