Growing with the Family
Clement was a Quaker and a man of strong business principles. His customers appreciated his unfailing reliability; his heavily laden delivery bike was always on time, whilst suppliers welcomed his excellent payment record.
Before and after World War One, five of Clement’s sons came into the business, which made possible expansion beyond Eastbourne. Soon branches were thriving at Redhill, Tunbridge Wells, Guildford, Horsham and Bexhill.
At the close of World War II the huge programme of rebuilding and repair work saw Brewers grow to meet the demand for decorating materials. During this period branches opened throughout the South of England and South London – with the third generation of the family picking up the baton. Later the fourth generation has seen moves into the West of England, North London and, more recently, East Anglia and the Midlands.
In increasingly competitive times Brewers have always valued the loyalty of their customers. But that was no accident – establishing good relationships with customers, suppliers and staff has always been at the heart of our philosophy.
Today’s employees – now a thousand strong – are continuing to build the company’s reputation through their friendly, helpful advice and their knowledge of decorating products, techniques and trends.
Of Paper and Paints
How the decorating trade has changed since 1904! In those days the decorators’ merchant did many of those things that a manufacturer does today. For example, wallpaper was received from the manufacturers in large hessian-wrapped hand sewn bundles. The Brewer ‘boys’ would then carefully unwrap them and make up the pattern books.
Wallpapers had to be hand-trimmed to size by Brewers, a process calling for some skill, where the odd mistake could prove expensive. A ‘piece’ of wallpaper was made by joining 12 sheets of ‘Double Demy’ (22” x 35”) which measured a length of 11 yards. This size standard is almost identical today.
Clement Brewer’s paint stock included White Lead, a pigment that was mixed with linseed oil to make paint. Colours were supplied both dry and ground in oil; you could choose from 16 different coach varnishes, 22 kinds of decorative varnishes, 14 stains and polishes – and others specially to order. A milestone of those early years was the arrival in 1908 of the first supplies of Halls Distemper, the revolutionary wall treatment in pre-determined colours. Clement prided himself on having everything the decorator would ever need. Nothing’s changed!
All the Major Brands
If service and expertise are at the heart of Brewers, then the backbone is surely the unbelievably wide product range – an A to Z of leading brand decorating materials, paints, papers, tools and accessories, plus Brewers’ highly regarded in-house brand of Albany Paints and Wallcoverings.
The Albany brand has grown over the years. The name was originally chosen by Clement in the 1920s for our wallpaper collection to reflect the highest standards of interior decor which were to be found in the flats just off London’s Piccadilly.
The brand is just as strong today because there’s consistent quality in every can that the decorator can trust – and because of the depth of range which all adds up to the complete painting system.
Available for interior and exterior applications, every finish is represented – traditional gloss, vinyl matt, vinyl silk, soft sheen emulsion, eggshell, masonry point and the latest water-based acrylic gloss and eggshell finishes. Every colour too: over 700 shades, including the traditional 100 British Standard colours that would surely have turned Clement Brewer green with envy.
At the celebration of a centenary of supplying decoration materials it was time to look back and reminisce – but only briefly. The Company has prospered by our readiness to anticipate market needs, nurturing a hard-won reputation for having everything the decorator will ever need, with knowledgeable, well-trained staff in the branches.
We have steered a steady course through some momentous changes in trading conditions in recent years – preserving services that put the long-term benefits of customer loyalty ahead of short-term gain. This is why, for instance, Brewers trade decorators continue to enjoy best value with free daily deliveries, free technical advice and on-site representation.
‘Can we do it any better?’ is a question we continuously ask ourselves. The answers come with initiatives such as the development of on-line shops selling quality designer wallcoverings and paints. Whilst decorators searching for specialist industrial coatings or looking to move into spray painting will find that the products and expertise are now available at Brewers.
Looking further, chairman Mark Brewer says, “By retaining our status as an independent family business, we have been able to grow at our own natural pace. This has enabled us to build teams of knowledgeable and helpful people at each branch and to ensure that new outlets are always launched with competent staff ready to give our customers all the decorating help and advice they need.”