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The British Woolworth Pioneers

The founders of the British Woolworths - F. W. Woolworth & Co. Ltd. (est. 1909)

John B. Snow ("Surefire"), who joined the management team in 1910 and managed all of the early store openings as well as heading up the British buying team W.L. Stephenson, the only Englishman among the founder directors of the British Woolworths. Frank W. Woolworth, Founder of the British Woolworths and Chairman on a salary of £1 a year Jennie Woolworth, Frank's wife and co-signatory of the Articles of Association of the British Company Charles Hubbard, one of the founder members of the British Woolworths, who was persuaded to join the pioneers in the UK as Manager of Store 1 Liverpool

John Ben

Joined in 1910 from the USA. "Surefire" headed the buying office for 25 years. Famous for spectacular store openings and for visiting stores and suppliers in his Rolls-Royce.

Detailed Biography

William Lawrence

The only Briton on the original team, Bill is credited with turning the five-and-ten into "Woolies". He took FWW to the top of the stock market. Director 1909-23, MD 1923-31. Chairman 1931-1947.

Detailed Biography

Frank Winfield

Sole architect of the British chain in 1909, which was his only overseas opening. Paid £1 a year in cash to be Chairman. Chose the first Board and early store locations personally. Loved England and the English. 

Detailed Biography

(née Creighton)

Canadian seamstress who married Frank in 1876 and assisted in his first stores. Was his "rock". Witnessed the papers that established Woolworth UK. Disliked the trappings of wealth of her later life.

Family Biography

Charles Heiman

American Manager hired to set up the first store in Liverpool and train store managers. As the company grew, "Charlie" rose to become Deputy Chairman in the 1930s, but preferred a good round of golf !

Detailed Biography 

Byron Miller, founder member of Woolworths in the UK and later worldwide president of F. W. Woolworth Co

Byron De Witt MILLER

Rose from the ranks - an errand boy in the 1890s, by 1908 was Superintendent (Area Mgr) for New York. Founder Director of the British Woolies from 1909. In 1921 returned to US as parent co. Treasurer (FD). President 1931-1935.

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Samuel Balfour - one of the founder members of the British Woolworths


Cousin of the founder who worked his way from the stockroom to manage the Woolworths in 6th Avenue, New York. Frank persuaded him to lead the British adventure. He was the first UK MD from 1909-23 and got the subsidiary off to a great start.

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Fred Moore Woolworth - founding MD of Woolworths UK in 1909 and cousin of the Five and Ten Cent Magnate


Managed the New York warehouse, became UK FD. Recalled to US in 1910.