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A Mancunian Family Affair

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This past year, more than ever, has shown us the true meaning of family and friendship, and with World Family Day just around the corner on Saturday 15th May we look at the 102-year history of Desser and Co – a Manchester based family business.  

The story of Desser and Co starts back in the dark days of the First World War, where a British soldier named Issac Desser served on the front line in Belgium. It was here that Issac encountered a Flemish craftsman who was producing several types of basketware and the foundation of Desser and Co was born. 

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On his return from the war, Issac began a small business operating from the front parlour of his Mother-in-law’s house. Here, Issac’s wife, Anne and her family helped packing goods to despatch to customers. Realising the commercial potential, Issac began importing the baskets from Belgium to sell to retail outlets across the United Kingdom.  

When the family moved to a new house near to Cheetham Hill Road in Manchester, the business went with them and Issac was soon joined by his brother Simon – and in 1919, Desser & Co was formed. Following this in 1932 Issac’s son Morris also joined the company. 

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After the Second World War, Simon’s son-in-law Ronnie Stewart joined the family business, which was now housed at Lord Street, Cheetham Hill. However, shortly after this move Simon passed away.  

The family business continued to grow, necessitating another move to a large but still cramped basement on Robert Street. By this time, Morris’ son Gordon began working for the family business followed by Ronnie’s two sons Michael and Barry. Further expansion signalled another move in the early Seventies to an impressive purpose-built warehouse and showroom on Bradstone Road, Cheetham Hill, where the company is still based, today!  

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In 1975, sadly, Issac Desser passed away, working at his company until his 80th year. Proceeding him, in 1987, Simon Desser (Issac’s Great Grandson) joined the business kicking off the fourth generation of the family business followed by Mark Stewart in 1997 and then David Stewart in 2017 (both Ronnie’s Grandsons).  

Unfortunately, sadness descended on the family once more with the passing of Morris in 1997, Ronnie Steward in 2000 and Simon Desser in 2018.  

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The family and business have shared many hardships throughout its 102-year history but with its Mancunian spirit and the will to succeed, has kept the family business alive. The Great Grandsons – Mark and David have great ambitions for the company for many more years to come.  

Not only does Desser and Co celebrated four generations of a family run business, but many also committed employees have been with the company for over 30 years, bringing family members of their own into the business – making it a true family affair! 

All this from one man who had a simple idea whilst serving on the front line for his country. 

Anything is possible.  

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