SIR JOHN MOORES Biography - Bussiness people and enterpreneurs


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Name: John Moores                                                                       
Born: 25 January 1896                                                                   
Died: 25 September 1993                                                                 
Sir John Moores (25 January 1896 – 25 September 1993) was a British businessman       
and philanthropist.                                                                     
John Moores was born of working-class origins, in Eccles, near Salford,                 
Lancashire on 25 January 1896. He was one of eight children and the eldest of           
four sons. He left school in 1910 after attending primary school. At first he           
was a messenger boy at the Manchester Post Office but was soon accepted in a             
course at the Post Office School of Telegraphy. This enabled him, in 1912 to             
join the Commercial Cable Company as a junior operator. He was in the Navy in           
World War one as a wireless operator, being stationed at Aberdeen before serving         
Moores had always enjoyed dreaming up schemes to make money, possibly because of         
his poor background. When he came into cash, most of it was sent to his widowed         
mother, Louisa, a mill worker. His father, also called John, was a bricklayer,           
but he developed a drink problem and died in January 1919 at the age of 47. John         
Moores jnr was demobilised from the Navy soon afterwards.                               
After the war telegraphy took him away further as carried on working for the             
Commercial cable company. In 1920 he was posted to Waterville in County Kerry,           
Ireland and he noticed there was no public library around for miles so he set up         
a store that sold books and stationery. He bulk imported books and called it the         
Waterville supply company. He also sold golf balls as there was no sports shop           
and a golf course. However, by 1922 he was back in England. The cable company           
stationed him at Liverpool.                                                             
John, Colin Askham and Bill Hughes were friends who had worked together as Post         
Office messenger boys in Manchester. It was whilst looking for a new money-making       
idea that John Moores came across John Jervis Barnard, a Birmingham man who had         
latched onto the public's growing passion for two things: football and betting.         
Moores had always been an avid football fan from when he was very young. In fact         
sports of all kinds had always interested him. He played amateur football               
himself until retiring at the age of 40.                                                 
Barnard had devised a 'football pool', where punters would bet on the outcome of         
football matches. The payouts to winners came from the 'pool' of money that was         
bet, less 10 per cent to cover "management costs". It had not been particularly         
successful. Clearly, Barnard was struggling to make a profit. Moores got hold of         
a Barnard pools coupon, and the three Manchester friends decided they could –         
and would – do it better.                                                             
They could not let their employers, the Commercial Cable Company, know what they         
were doing, or they would be sacked. No outside employment was allowed. That             
ruled out calling it the John Moores Football Pool, or anything like it. Moores         
recalled years later: "Calling it the John Smith's football pool sounded a bit           
dodgy as well". The solution to that particular problem came from Colin Askham.         
He had been orphaned as a baby and been brought up by an aunt whose surname was         
Askham, but he had been born Colin Henry Littlewood. And so, in 1923, the               
Littlewood Football Pool – as it was called originally – was started.               
Each of the three partners invested £50 of their own money into the venture, and       
with the help of a small, discreet and cheap printer they got to work. In 1923,         
£50 was a huge sum to invest in what – based on Barnard’s experience – was a     
precarious venture, and as John Moores himself recalled: "As I signed my own             
cheque at the bank, my hands were damp. It seemed such a lot of money to be             
risking". A small office in Church Street, Liverpool, was rented and the first 4,000     
coupons were distributed outside Manchester United's Old Trafford ground before         
one Saturday match that winter. Moores handed the coupons out himself, helped by         
some young boys eager to earn a few pennies.                                             
It was not an instant success. Only 35 coupons came back. Bets totalled £4 7s 6d,       
and the 10 per cent deducted did not even cover the three men’s expenses. They         
needed to take the idea to another level, and quickly. So they decided to print         
10,000 coupons, and took them to Hull, where they were handed out before a big           
game. This time, only one coupon was returned. Their venture was about to               
collapse almost as soon as it had begun. In the canteen of the Commercial Cable         
Company, the three partners had a hushed conversation. It was a crisis meeting.         
They had kept pumping money into the fledgling business, but midway through the         
1924-25 football season it was still losing money. The three young men were each         
£200 lighter in the pocket, with no prospect of things improving. Bill Hughes           
suggested they cut their losses and forget the whole thing. Colin Askham agreed.         
They could see why John Jervis Barnard's idea of a football pool had failed in           
Birmingham. They expected Moores to concur, but instead he said: "I'll pay each         
of you the £200 you’ve invested, if you'll sell me your shares". Encouraged by       
his wife, Moores kept faith and he paid Askham and Hughes £200 each. Moores             
later devised a security system to prevented cheating and eventually the pools           
took off, becoming one of the best-known names in Britain.                               
In January 1932 Moores, by now a millionaire, was able to disengage himself             
sufficiently from the pools to start up Littlewoods Mail Order Store. This was           
followed on 6 July 1937 by the opening of the first Littlewoods department store         
in Blackpool. By the time World War II started there were 25 Littlewoods stores         
across the UK and over 50 by 1952.                                                       
On 21 March 1960, Moores gave up his chairmanship of the Pools business, and             
handed over the reins to his brother, Cecil, so he could become a director of           
Everton Football Club. In June he became the chairman and in April 1961 he               
famously sacked Johnny Carey in the back of a London Taxi and appointed Harry           
Catterick as Everton manager in his place. He would remain as Everton chairman           
first of all up to July 1965, resigning due to the poor health of his wife, who         
died two months later. In 1968 Moores regained the chairmanship and stayed until         
August 1973 when he resigned a second time. He finally left the Everton board of         
directors in April 1977. He also owned a quarter of the shares of Liverpool             
football club as well and Moores's nephew David Moores was the chairman up to           
In 1970 Moores was made a Freeman of the city of Liverpool. In 1972 he was made         
a CBE and in June 1980 he was knighted.                                                 
Moores retired as chairman in October 1977 of Littlewoods and was succeeded by           
his son Peter. However, as profits fell (Moores remained on the board) he               
resumed the chairmanship in October 1980. He gave up this role again in May 1982         
and was made life president of the organisation. His family carried on running           
Littlewoods but a non family member succeeded Moores as chairman. Moores himself         
remained on the board of directors until December 1986 when he fully retired,           
because of age and also because his health had declined. He had two operations           
straight after each other, on his achilles tendon and then for an enlarged               
prostate during the summer of 1986. At the 1987 League Cup final, sponsored by           
Littlewoods, Moores, by now walking with a stick, shook hands with all of the           
players present, as he was the guest of honour. He stayed and watched the match.         
As late as the summer of 1988, by now mainly in a wheelchair, he was still               
visiting Littlewoods stores across the UK, but he began to lose his powers of           
speech from then onwards. Moores still attended Everton football matches up to           
the early 1990s though.                                                                 
On 25 September 1993 Sir John Moores died at his home at Shireburn Road,                 
Freshfields, Formby, where he had lived since 1930. He was cremated six days             
later at Southport.                                                                     
Two months after his death his estate was valued as being worth more than 10             
million pounds. The Littlewoods businesses were sold to the Barclay Brothers in         
October 2002.                                                                           
In 1992, Liverpool Polytechnic took the name Liverpool John Moores University in         
his honour upon being granted University status.                                         
In the Sunday Times Rich List 2006 the Moores' family wealth was estimated at £1,160m. 
The John Moores Painting Prize is co-ordinated by National Museums Liverpool.           
The first John Moores exhibition was held in 1957, six years after the Walker           
Art Gallery re-opened after World War II. It was intended as a one-off, but its         
success led to it becoming a biennial event. By the early sixties, the                   
exhibition was regarded as the UK’s leading showcase for avant-garde painting.         
Winning works have included classic paintings by Jack Smith ('Creation and               
Crucifixion'), William Scott, Roger Hilton ('March 1963') and David Hockney ('Peter     
getting out of Nick's Pool').