For the next eight months I will be researching the stories of the men and women behind some of the most familiar High Street brands for a book commissioned by Pen and Sword. Remarkably, several of the big names began in Leicestershire, including Halfords, Currys PC World, Next, George and Wilko.
I recently met Tony Wilkinson, former Chairman of Wilkos, and son of the founder of the company. His father was James Kemsey Wilkinson, who opened his first hardware shop in Leicester's Charnwood Street in 1930. Tony gave me this photograph of his father, and told me of his memories of childhood, and later when he joined the family business and became manager of the company's first Leicester store in Charles Street.