Sunday, August 14, 2011

Cussons Sons & Co. Ltd.

Today, Cussons Sons & Co. is PJ Cussons, manufacturers of Imperial Leather and other toiletries. Their 350 employees generate £135,839,000 in sales annually, with £15,147,000 profit. This is a long way from the chemist shop Thomas Cussons opened in England in 1869.

Cussons growth was the result of the work of Thomas's son Alexander, who purchased a bleach mill at Kersal Vale, Salford in 1909, establishing the firm in manufacturing. By 1917, Marks & Spencer penny bazaars began to stock Cussons products, and by 1918 the firm had moved into the production of perfume.

That was the beginning of a period of expansion: in 1920 Cussons established a soap factory in Kersal Vale, Salford, and in 1921, Cussons acquired Bayleys of Bond Street.

In 1946, Alexander made Cussons Sons & Co. into a public company. He also made Cussons into a multinational company, with sales in many Commonwealth countries.

A Cussons Advertisement from 1954

In 1955, Cussons acquired Gerard Brothers of Nottingham. Gerard Bros. Ltd., founded in 1897, was a manufacturer of personal healthcare products. Also in 1955, the Journal of the American Medical Association reported a study by British Psychologist P. C. Wason of 15 soap-wrappers working for Manchester soapmaker Cussons, Sons & Co. Ltd. The soap wrappers were reported to do a strange little jig to music piped in over the plant intercom. Wason found that the dancing helped in both speed and efficiency.

In 1975, Cussons Sons & Co. were acquired by Paterson Zochonis.

The Cussons commercial overprint is very unusual in that it incorporates the company logo (shown in the advertisement) in the overprint.


by Michael Behm

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