In its early years, the key to successful multiple retailing was selling goods for cash, not credit. Bearing this in mind it is not surprising to find, in the 1870s and 1880s, that several different companies opened chains of boot and shoe shops under the simple name ‘Cash & Co.’ – just as Jesse Boot branded his shops ‘Boots Cash Chemists’.
It is difficult to disentangle the various Cash & Co. chains. One of the first was established by Manfield & Sons of Northampton, who traded as ‘Cash & Co., The Well-Known Boot & Shoe Makers’. Rebranding as ‘Manfield & Sons’ in 1883, they claimed:
This alteration has been rendered necessary by the frequent Piracy of the name “Cash & Co.,” whereby unscrupulous persons, trading under this and similar titles, have sought to mislead the Public and benefit themselves by the sale of inferior articles (Birmingham Daily Post, 1 December 1883, 7)
In 1886 a company called ‘Cash & Co., Leeds Boot & Shoe Store’ bought the Royal Boot Store, located opposite the market clock on Church Street in Whitby. Its advertisements stated that ‘The firm is in a position to supply the public at strictly Wholesale Prices, because they supply direct from the Leeds Factory to your feet’ (Whitby Gazette, 10 July 1886, 1). So far, the identity of this Leeds factory has proved elusive.
A shoe shop called Cash & Co. – perhaps part of the same chain as the Whitby shop – was photographed in Shrewsbury by the Italian businessman Joseph Lewis della Porta in 1888. No mention of Leeds can be discerned in the photograph, but the fascia identifies the business as ‘Wholesale Manufacturers’.
A chain called Cash & Co. was well established through the Midlands by 1890. This may have had its origins in the Leeds chain, but could have been a separate business. By 1914, however, Cash & Co. was firmly associated with the Leicester manufacturing firm, W. & E. Turner Ltd. This could have come about through merger, since the company’s shops continued trading in subsequent decades as either Cash & Co. or W. & E. Turner Ltd.
W. & E. Turner Ltd had deep roots in the boot and shoe business. By 1855 the brothers William and Edward Turner were established in business as pawnbrokers or auctioneers at 4 Belgrave Gate in Leicester. Around 1863, however, they set up a boot and shoe factory on a long, narrow plot behind their premises. In 1871, William Turner employed 300 people. By 1900 the factory had been extended to 15-21 Church Gate, where an impressive office and warehouse block still stands today.
In 1914, Cash & Co. had 136 branches, two factories and two warehouses. Historic photographs show that the shopfronts were remarkably like those of Boots Cash Chemists, with the word ‘Boots’ preceding the word ‘Cash’, and executed – no doubt deliberately – in the familiar Boots italics font. As usual, the most obvious traces of these shops to survive are the mosaic floors of entrance lobbies. Examples of Cash & Co. floors can be seen at Agincourt House in Monmouth and, slightly later in date, at 21 High Street, Haverfordwest. In each case the stall risers beneath the windows were clad in bottle green tiles – a colour also favoured by Lipton’s. An example of a W. & E. Turner Ltd floor survives on the High Street in Lowestoft. Both Cash & Co. and Turner’s sold footwear under the following brands: Dr Hackett, Hyacinth, Snowdrop, Boulevard and – most prominent on shopfronts – Pioneer.
In 1980 Turner Shoes – with all 140 shops – was bought by Hepworths for £9 million. The fascia subsequently vanished from the high street.