1919-1939

Groves & Whitnall, Between The Wars...

The steady improvement of trade during the war years, and especially the boom of 1919, was markedly reflected by the figures in the balance sheet. In 1919 the item of £83,573 for goodwill was written off. In 1920 cash in hand at the bank amounted to £222,138. Investment had risen to £150,358.

In 1930 the Ordinary capital was increased by a bonus of two shares for every three shares held, raising it from £360,000 to £600,000. This was done by a transfer from General Reserve Account. At the same time the Preference dividend was increased from 5% to 5.5% . After this bonus distribution, the dividend, was of course, reduced, but the rate of 15% for the year 1930 was equivalent to the old rate of 25% on the smaller capital.

In 1931 came the Snowdon Budget and increased beer duty, which greatly incensed the public and administered a severe blow to all brewery profits. For 1931 the dividend was 12.5% whilst for 1932 a further reduction to 10% was made, it was then decided to transfer £10,000 from the Dividend Equalization Account. This was done mainly to demonstrate the fluidity of the latter, In 1933 the additional duty was removed by Mr. Neville Chamberlain, and the dividend that year was increased to 12%. For the following eight years, 1934 to 1941 inclusive, 12.5% was distributed.

The period between the two wars was one of gradual consolidation of the Company's improved position. A number of inferior licences were lost under the Compensation Scheme and others were surrendered when the Licensing Justices sanctioned improvements to the companies other houses, which were altered to bring them up to date, especially in regard to comfort and sanitation, so as to meet changing social conditions. During this period Groves & Whitnall acquired either by purchase or removal of existing licences the following "modern houses" - 1921, "The Cattle Market" Hotel, Purchased and enlarged. 1924, "The Rose And Crown", Knutsford - Rebuilt. 1925, "The Old House At Home" - Special removal to new premises, "The Pelican" Hotel, - Purchased and rebuilt in 1931. 1929, "The Kingsway" Hotel - Built. 1932, "The Racecourse" Hotel - Built. 1934, "The Cotton Tree" Inn - Built. 1935, "The New Inn" Hackle Street - Built, And 1939, "The Mersey" Hotel - Built.

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Above; A Newspaper Ad From 1924

Amongst alterations to other houses must be mentioned the building of the Compton Hall Assembly Rooms attached to "The Angel" Hotel Knutsford, which gave the town one of the finest modern ballroom units of its time in Cheshire. A large part of the company's original cottage property, much of which was by then deteriorating owing to age, was disposed of and its book values written off. During this period the strength of the balance sheet was also improved. In 1934 over £60,000 was written off properties, and in 1938 £50,000 was written off land, brewery buildings, offices, plant and fixtures, fittings, etc. In 1939 a further £20,000 was written off brewery buildings and offices.

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Above: The Regent Road Brewery Yard (Courtesy Tony Reynolds)

In 1938 £20,000 was placed to "Properties Improvement Account" This new account was formed for writing down certain improvements to properties instead of adding their own cost to capital, Since that date £64,000 was placed into it and about half that sum had already been expended on improvements by 1949, without adding to the book value of the properties.

Many improvements to the brewery buildings and plant were also made in the period between the wars. In order to concentrate all brewing at Regent Road, it was decided in 1932 to close Alexandra Brewery. The Wine and Spirit Department, which had previously been been housed there, was, at the same time, moved to Regent Road. In 1939 the new wing of the bottling works was built, a modern steel and concrete factory that enabled the brewery to cope with the rapidly increasing popularity of bottled beers. The Directors also took advantage of the company's prosperity to safeguard the interests of its staff and employees by making provisions for pensions on retirement. Groves & Whitnall was one of the pioneers in founding an insurance scheme for its employees. The first in fact was established as early as 1st May, 1906, when such ideas were very uncommon. It was a contributory Insurance Scheme that enabled the staff and foremen to contribute to Endowment or Whole Life Insurance policies, the larger portion of the premiums being paid by the company itself.

In 1920 a non-contributory Superannuation Account was commenced, and between that year and 1947 over £200,000 was placed into its credit. During this period of 27 years over £110,000 was paid out in pensions. All the money was provided out of the profits of the Ordinary shareholders, most of whom were then members of the family that had founded the business and who thus shared their increased good fortune with their employees.

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Above: You Can See Horse Drawn & The Latest In Steam Drays Being Loaded, If You Look Through The Arch You Can See The Entrance To The Globe Bottling Works On The Other Side Of Regent Road (Courtesy Tony Reynolds)

A summary of the changes to the Board Of Directors during the period between the two world wars is given here....

  • Mr. William Schofield, Deputy Chairman since 1915, died while in office on the 13th April, 1923.

  • Mr. Keith Grimble Groves, was elected to the Board on 25th April, 1923. He was the fifth son of Mr. James Grimble Groves  and was a barrister-at-law.

  • Mr. William Gilbert Worthington, a director since 1913, retired from active employment with the company on the the 30th June, 1923, but continued as a Director until 31st December, 1924. He died on the 25th December, 1930.

  • Mr. Charles Henry Leigh, who had been manger of the Globe Works and who had been appointed Deputy Chairman in April, 1923, after the death of Mr. Cronshaw, died in office on the 11th March, 1925.

  • Colonel John Edward Grimble Groves, C.M.G., T.D., J.P., Chairman and Managing Director since 1914, retired on 31st December, 1931.

  • Mr. George Whitehead, was appointed Deputy Chairman and joint Managing Director, in conjunction with Mr. Rowland Whitaker, in 1932.

  • Mr. Fredrick William Gratrix, who had joined the company in 1921, was appointed a Director in 1932.