Who We Are
Over the 130 years, Bratts has operated, three families have owned it; the Bratts, the Evans and the Grays. Back in 1860, the original Northwich store was founded by Henry Bratt, who along with his son Miles, opened up ‘H. Bratt & Son’.
After his son died, Henry Bratt partnered with his Fabric Buyer, Jack Evans, and the firm was renamed ‘Bratt & Evans’. Henry Bratt then died while on a world cruise in Melbourne, Australia, leaving the store to Evans. It was from him that John Arthur Gray purchased the business in 1928.
John’s sons, John (Jack Lancaster) Gray and Donald Gray joined their father in 1936 and 1946 respectively. John Arthur Gray died in 1951 after a long fight with cancer, only two years after a complete modernisation was carried out.
The store continued to grow throughout the years, trebling in size in 1961 when a new building on two floors was erected. Then, in 1967 a further floor and a lift were added to ensure accessibility for everyone. Next came a travel agency, which started in the store in 1958 but was soon relocated into the precinct in 1972. After this, two more locations were added, one in Knutsford in 1968 and Nantwich in 1979.
The Nantwich store, (established initially in 1835), was purchased from the Harlock family by the Evans in 1971, with the hope that with some modernisation it would produce another steady flow of happy customers.
Now, the Bratts company is led by the capable and passionate Mr Tim Gray, Donald Gray’s son. Mr Martin Gray, John Gray’s son, retired in March 2014, while Tim’s wife only recently retired from the business along with Kate Burrows, Donald Gray’s daughter. Judy, Kate and Martin all remain as Directors of the company, helping to keep family at the heart of the business.
A few words about
At the beginning, Bratt and Evans was first founded by Henry Bratts as H. Bratt and Son, and it was more or less on the same site as the business stands today. Then, in 1870, Bratt became a supplier for John Brunner Mond and Ludwig Mond’s industry, which later turned into him having shares in the struggling chemical company. Today, the highly successful I.CI. Conglomerate still runs.
Miss Florence Minshall was an exceptional employee who served for all owners; the Bratts, the Evans and the Grays. Although she only started as an apprentice in the Millinery Workroom where they created those big, beautiful hats of that era, she worked her way up until finally, in 1942, she was rewarded with a directorship in Bratts.
Now that the chemical complex was flourishing in the small town, it soon became a development under the name of Brummer Mond & Co in Winnington. Now, there stood three large drapers in town; Bratts, Coombs and Prices. Miles, unfortunately, soon after passed, and Jack Evans, Bratts’ Fabric Buyer, took the partnership on board. However, Evans was unsuccessful, and the heavy burden of the shop fell on Miss Minshall. Henry retired shortly after and used his wealth to his advantage until he passed away on a cruise in Australia.
Now that Miss Minshall was, involuntarily fully running Bratts, and had been asking Henry for authorisation on increases on the businesses bank overdraft while he travelled- it was time for a new face to help her. As the business became stagnated, J A Gray, an agent for a silk merchant, became interested and persuaded his friends and family to help him fund his purchase of the business in 1928.
Gray’s sons, John and Donald then joined his father in 1936 and 1946 so that they could take over the family business for their father who sadly passed in 1951 after a long fight with cancer.
Hooray! A new Bratts store! It was about time that Bratts expanded on their Northwich name, so they opened up a brand new store in Knutsford in 1968 which was then shortly followed by another new addition in the town of Nantwich in 1979. The Nantwich store became the new focus for the Evans in 1971 when they purchased it outright.
The Bratts company is still being led by the very passionate Mr Tim Gray, Donald’s son, and today the store is still up-keeping it’s fantastic established reputation. As the heart of the town, it’ll always stand. The Bratts company; a great department store with a great history.