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Hepworths - a history of Next Directory

Joseph Hepworth was a Yorshire born tailor who with his brother-in-law James Rhodes founded Joseph Hepworth & Son in 1864. Based in Leeds, the company grew quickly and by 1881 employed 500 people making quality three piece suits. During the 1880's the decided to sell direct to the public and by 1890 had 107 shops.


Kendall and Sons was an umbrella seller founded in 1870 by William Kendall. He started selling umbrellas from a barbers shop in Leicester and then went on to manufacture them using frames designed by Samuel Fox. The company continued to expand in the twentieth century and began selling rainwear and ladies wear aswell as umbrellas. The main emphasis For Kendalls continued to stress quality and high standards and by the 1960's they had over 100 shops around the UK. In 1977 Kendalls next directory store front was bought by Combined English Stores.


In 1981 Hepworth & Sons bought the old Kendalls stores from Combined English Stores. The chairman of Hepworth at the time was the designer Terence Conran. He recruited fashion designer George Davies whose task was to come up with a new concept of womens wear store. This led to the first Next shop which opened on the 12th of February, 1982. By the next year all the Kendall stores had been converted to Next and in 1984 they began converting the old Hepworth stores and at the same time decided to include mens fashion. In 1986 the company officially changed name from Hepworth & Son to Next plc. Next continued to expand and in 1986 they entered the mail order business with the launch of Next Directory. Eleven years later they created their online presence next.co.uk.


next directory

  • 1864 - Hepworth & Son founded in Leeds
  • 1870 - Kendall & Sons founded in Leicester
  • 1881 - Hepworth employs 500 people
  • 1890 - Hepworth expands to 107 tailors shops
  • 1977 - Kendalls bought by Combined English Stores
  • 1981 - Hepworth buys Kendall stores from Combined            English Stores
  • 1982 - First Next shop opened
  • 1983 - Kendall stores rebranded as Next stores
  • 1984 - Hepworth stores rebranded as Next
  • 1986 - Hepworth & Son rebranded as Next plc
  • 1988 - Next Directory launched
  • 1999 - Next.co.uk launched