The Story of Booths

Our story began in June 1847 when tea dealer Edwin Henry Booth at just 19 years of age secured a loan of £80 to open his first shop, The China House in Blackpool. Mr Edwin’s flair for business and advertising allowed him to repay the debt just three months later, making a profit of £50. He continued to capitalise on this earlier success by opening a second, larger shop in 1855 in the market town of Chorley.

By 1863, Edwin had developed a keen application and admiration for the quality of his goods. And, thanks to the changes in UK licensing laws, Booths added wine and liquor to their range. Three more locations were added to the estate in the following years, Preston in 1867, Lytham in 1878 and Blackburn in 1884.

Edwin Henry Booth

“Sell the best goods available, in attractive stores, staffed with first class assistants”

Booths founding philosophy.

In 1899, Edwin’s eldest son John Booth took over the responsibility of running the family business. In 1896, Booths was incorporated as a private limited company and shortly afterwards a colleague bonus scheme was proposed based on company profits. By 1902, Mr John had enlarged the stores and added cafés in line with the rapidly-developing café society of the upper to middle classes, partaking in morning and afternoon tea.

Booths continued to thrive during the Great War years, and as a sign of prosperity colleagues were invited to become shareholders in 1920, a somewhat novel concept for the times. The ensuing inter-war years saw one of the fastest expansion periods in the company’s history, opening 8 new shops in twelve years.

The succeeding years however proved more challenging due to the austerity experienced after world war two and the social revolution that was occurring at the time. In 1951, John Kenyon Booth (known as Kenny) the younger of two sons became chairman, supported by his eldest brother Edwin Henry Booth (known as Major Wyn).

Between the 50’s and 80’s Booths undertook a significant redevelopment of its estate, refurbishing cafes and relocating smaller shops to much larger premises with supporting car parks. Specialist trades were also incorporated such as bakers, greengrocers, butchers, fishmongers and confectioners.

In 1962, the first of Booths shops were converted to self-service whilst still retaining a high degree of personal customer service. New warehouses were built to service the broadening product range.

“To be loved by our customers for inspiring and nourishing their desire for excellent food and drink”

Booths dream.

Michael Booth, John Booth

In 1970, John Booth took over as chairman from his late father, supported by his brother Michael Booth. Mr John realised that the skills required in the modern era were greater than the family alone could provide and invited three non-family members to join the board between the 60's and 70's.

In the years that followed Booths flourished expanding into new regions, opening stores at Windermere, Ulverston, Kirby Lonsdale, Knutsford, Ilkley, Settle and Hesketh Bank. Each store was unique in its own right with superlative architecture designed to blend in with neighbouring buildings and environments. Under his stewardship, the company subsequently doubled in size between 1990 and 2000.

170 years later, five generations of the Booth family have successfully led E.H Booth & Co Ltd from its humble beginnings. The current chairman Edwin J. Booth became chairman in 1997 and is supported by  younger brother Graham. From a single shop to the present day the company now proudly boasts no fewer than 28 stores across Northern England, employing around 3,000 people.

In 2005, Booths moved its central warehouse production and distribution centre to state-of-the-art premises in Longridge, Preston. This helped facilitate the manufacture and wholesaling of Booths own label range which in turn has been recognised nationally for it’s superior taste and quality.

The company has been recognised as one of the best 100 businesses to work for in the country, winning countless awards. In 2006, Booths were declared second in a list of the World’s greatest Food Retailers.

Edwin J. Booth, Graham Booth

Mr Edwin chaired the Advisory Board North West of Business in the Community and subsequently became Chairman of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership. He became a founder trustee of the Prince’s Countryside Fund and was appointed High Sheriff of Lancashire in 2021. He has acted as a Prince of Wales Business Ambassador for the North West and was awarded an Honarary Doctrate by Lancaster University for his leadership and commitment to responsible business practices that create a positive and lasting impact in both business and the local community.

Recognising Mr Edwin’s contributions to business and charity the Queen bestowed on him the honour of CBE (Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) in 2019. 

We continue to be committed to offering customers a warm Northern welcome and a friendly service,.. working closely with our suppliers to form strong and lasting relationships and ensuring the sustainability of British agriculture and the environment for future generations.