Wickes: The Founder Story

The Wickes name has become synonymous with home improvement in the UK, with its distinctive yellow logo and extensive range of products adorning hardware stores across the country. But the journey of Wickes is a tale of innovation, resilience, and adaptation, a story that spans over a century, reflecting the changing landscape of home improvement and the evolving needs of homeowners.

The Early Years: A Family-Run Business Takes Root

The origins of Wickes can be traced back to 1854, when Henry Dunn Wickes and his brother established a modest timber business in Michigan, USA. Their focus on providing high-quality lumber and building materials laid the foundation for a legacy that would extend across the Atlantic.

In the 1950s, as the post-war housing boom transformed the UK, a new opportunity arose for the Wickes family. Recognizing the demand for home improvement products, they established Wickes Building Supplies in the country.

The UK Transformation: A One-Stop Home Improvement Shop

The 1960s saw a significant shift in the way home improvement was approached. Inspired by the American model of 'do-it-yourself' (DIY), the Wickes brand evolved beyond simply selling timber and building materials. They introduced a wide range of DIY products, tools, and hardware, catering to the growing DIY enthusiast market.

In 1972, Wickes opened its first self-service store in Whitefield, Manchester, marking a pivotal moment in their history. This move transformed the retail experience, providing a convenient and accessible platform for homeowners to purchase the materials and tools they needed to tackle their home improvement projects.

Retail Expansion and Diversification: Embracing Change

As the home improvement industry continued to grow, Wickes expanded its retail footprint, opening numerous stores across the UK. They also diversified their product offerings, introducing more specialized ranges for kitchens, bathrooms, and flooring.

In the 1980s, Wickes ventured into the installation services market, offering professional help to homeowners who preferred not to tackle DIY projects themselves. This expansion further cemented their position as a one-stop shop for all home improvement needs.

Facing Challenges and Overcoming Adversity

The 1990s and early 2000s presented challenges for Wickes, as the UK economy faced recessions and the retail landscape underwent significant changes. However, the company demonstrated resilience and adaptability, restructuring their operations and adopting new technologies to remain competitive.

In 2000, Wickes was acquired by Focus DIY, a move that brought additional resources and scale. The company continued to invest in store refurbishments, product development, and customer service, striving to maintain its position as a leading home improvement retailer.

The Rise of E-commerce: Embracing the Digital Era

As the internet gained prominence, Wickes recognized the need to adapt to the digital era. They launched an e-commerce platform, providing a convenient online shopping experience for customers who preferred to browse and purchase from the comfort of their homes.

The integration of e-commerce into their business model allowed Wickes to reach a wider audience, expand their product range, and enhance customer service. It also enabled them to provide more detailed product information and offer interactive tools for homeowners to plan their projects.

Diversification and Innovation: Paving the Future

In recent years, Wickes has continued to diversify its offerings, expanding into new product categories such as garden furniture, appliances, and décor. They have also invested in innovative solutions to enhance the home improvement experience, such as online project planning tools and virtual consultation services.

The company's commitment to innovation and customer service has ensured its continued growth and success. As the home improvement industry evolves, Wickes remains at the forefront, adapting to changing trends and customer needs.

Conclusion: A Legacy of Home Improvement

From its humble beginnings in the timber trade to its position as a leading home improvement retailer, Wickes has a rich and enduring legacy. The company's story is a testament to the power of innovation, resilience, and a commitment to customer satisfaction. As Wickes looks towards the future, it is poised to continue its journey of growth and adaptation, serving the needs of homeowners for generations to come.

Back to blog

Stories for Startups.

Get Smarter Every Week - We Send You Cool Stories About People Making Money, and Tell You How They Did It.

Stop anytime.