On 1st February 1898 Johnson and Sons, as it was known, became a limited company. Three days later four of the partners joined forces with other local businessmen to form Yarmouth Stores Ltd. The objects of the new firm were ‘To carry on business as retail outfitters, clothiers, hosiers, shoes, oils, waterproof clothing of every description, drapery, knitwear, goods of all kinds…
All the waterproof and protective clothing ranges were relabelled ‘Yarmouth Stores’ and the company went on to export oilskins, knitwear and clothing to markets throughout the world.
The company opened stores in ports throughout the UK and before the Second World War employed more than 1200 people, the majority of them machinists making overalls, uniforms, smocks and other workwear in our factories in Great Yarmouth.
In the heyday of the herring fishing industry Yarmouth Stores would stay open until 11 o’clock at night when the Scottish girls arrive to kit themselves out ready for their arduous task of sorting, gutting and packing the fish. Oilskin skirts, aprons and boots were essential.
Between the 1930’s and the 1950’s was a difficult trading period for Yarmouth Stores. The fishing industry declined dramatically throughout the World Wars. Whilst the company focussed on manufacturing for the war effort, wartime closed many of the stores never to be re-opened.
In the 1960’s gas was discovered off the Norfolk coast and a new industry grew rapidly. Yarmouth Stores was quick to respond supply the vessels and crews in Great Yarmouth with chandlery, equipment, chemicals and clothing. And still does today.