The truth behind the demise of Greenings may be more complex than cheap imports.
British companies that were mentioned almost daily as our competitors (Ash & Lacy, Lockers) moved on and are still in business.
The Greenings of my time (1977-79) seemed stagnant.
I hardly ever caught a glimpse of the directors who were remote, almost mythical beings. So I do not know if they had the desire or ability to move the company forward. Perhaps not - or maybe they were prevented from doing what was needed.
I remember what, with the benefit of experience, are now apparent as important management shortcomings.
I also remember the union was a force to be reckoned with and the air of conflict with management was very much part of the landscape.
There was clearly a game being played at Greenings that frequently overrode what a business needs to do to prosper.
I had to explain to customers far too often why their goods were late and the last X promises I had obtained from the factory had been broken. I can well imagine a lot of those people looking for another supplier.
Although I was in sales, I did not do much real selling, i.e. actively chasing after business. I was never told to do that. I was not taught to. I was fresh out of school and did not know how to do anything more than what the others said and were doing, which was much the same as me.
My job was taking enquiries and orders that happened to come in, and mainly getting my ear bent and chasing round after late deliveries. That side of it was consistent, significant, unpleasant and a sure sign of things being amiss.
I do not know how all this came about. Positions and attitudes were entrenched by the time I got there and I am not apportioning blame. I wish I knew.
It is hard to see how that doomed state of affairs could have changed quickly enough to save the company for the long term. Maybe it was too far gone... heads down and hope for the best.
I did not realise most of this at the time. I left of other reasons.
Acres of old machinery in a vast Victorian complex would have needed a lot of investment to maintain as a viable concern. With hindsight, the company looks like a lost cause. If it was around today it would have to be quite different from how it was then.
Even so, it went under remarkably quickly after I left. Yes, it looked lost. There were occasional quiet but obvious panics over lack of sales but they were episodes. The directors must (or should) have known that it was on the edge but the gravity of the situation did not reach down as far as me.
On the plus side, I have many good memories of people I worked with. (A few not so good ones too, but a small minority). I did not appreciate them until I worked in other places away from Warrington which seemed cold in comparison.