The Cathedral City of Exeter, in the West of England, enjoyed great prosperity in the 16th to 18th centuries from processing and exporting woollen cloth. The woollen merchants of Exeter controlled all aspects of the trade and, alongside the historic town of Topsham a few miles downriver, Exeter was once the second busiest port in the country.
With such a history, it is not surprising that the founding families of the firm of Lear Browne and Dunsford chose Exeter as their base when they commenced trading in 1895 supplying fine quality fabrics and linings to the worldwide tailoring industry, which they continue to do to this day. The original Mr Lear and Mr Browne set up the business with Mr Dunsford becoming a partner in 1910, after initially joining as a salesman. The business became incorporated on 9 July 1973 and has long been managed by the Dunsford family. More recent years have seen various changes to the firm, most notably through acquisitions.
A L Robinson, Pedersen & Becker and Porter & Harding are just some of the ranges that have been acquired under the LBD wing, however, the acquisition of Harrisons of Edinburgh in 1998 led the company through its biggest transitional period.
Harrisons opened up the doors to Europe, the Far East and America. Harrisons, being a global brand, took Lear Browne and Dunsford to the next level.
Now Mark and James Dunsford run the company, and again, have led it through another acquisition. 2010 saw the name of H Lesser & Sons join the LBD collections.
This latest acquisition highlights the determination and drive of the company and its staff to be at the forefront of the woollen merchant trade and to ensure that Lear Browne and Dunsford will be here for many more years to come.
The Harrisons Team
Mark and James Dunsford are now the 4th generation of the family to be running the business. Between them they have over 40 years experience in the trade. They have been instrumental in growing and modernising the company, becoming a professional and world renowned supplier of quality fabrics for the tailoring industry.
Sales are headed up by our UK Sales Director, Carole Hannaford. Carole has been with Harrisons for some 15 years and in this time has established a great rapport with our UK customers and is always on hand to answer any questions on both cloth and linings.
The acquisition of H Lesser & Sons saw John Bell join our sales team. John has a fine reputation within the woollen merchant trade and will continue to service our customers, old and new, throughout the London area.
Our export sales are maintained throughout the world by our highly experienced agents. Please see our “Agents” page for locations and full contact details.
Key members of the warehouse team are Chad Gribble, Maria Lee, Daniel Hoyland and Tom Takel. The senior members, Chad and Maria, oversee woollens and linings orders respectively.
Our export department has greatly expanded in recent years. The export staff, including Audrey Ginisty and Lisa Kidley, look after our customers through the whole order and despatch process, distributing our goods throughout the world.
Every item of cloth that leaves our premises in Exeter is packed and dispatched under the scrutiny of Phillip Preston.
Bunches, travel sets and pattern samples are manufactured and dispatched by our in-house bunchmaker, Sharron Cleal. These key tools of the trade are a crucial part of the customers decision making process.
Joining the firm in August 2011 as Stock Controller, Steve Knowles oversees the flow of the cloth and linings in and out of our warehouse. Steve has been stock controlling for over twenty years and has been tasked with ensuring we have the stock as and when the customer demands.
The accounts department is headed up by Finance Director, Steve Howard. Steve has a wealth of accounting experience both in practice and industry.
Steve is ably assisted by Ben Harris and Dawn Parkhouse. Dawn, our hometrade sales invoicing clerk, is the longest serving staff member, joining the firm in 1981.
Ben oversees all credit control and also takes care of invoicing and accounts queries. He has also proved more than capable with IT issues and has been instrumental in the development of this very website!!