Mann, Byars, and Co.

MANN, BYARS, & Co., Merchants and Manufacturers, 21, Glassford Street, Glasgow.

    The growth of Glasgow as a great mercantile and manufacturing centre has not only been very rapid during the last half century, but its entire history has been one of rapid strides towards the position now so creditably occupied. Every branch of trade represented in its midst has kept pace with this remarkable growth, and to-day are to be seen the colossal results of the enterprise and ability of Glaswegians in the busy shipbuilding yard, the stately warehouse, or the grandly-equipped factory. It is a pleasure, therefore, to sketch the mercantile career of an establishment which is, in every respect, a vigorous exponent of modern Glasgow enterprise and manufacturing capacity.

    Such an one is the well-known establishment of Messrs. Mann, Byars, and Co., of 21, Glassford Street, the history of whose house furnishes an ample illustration of what can be accomplished by well-directed energies and sound methods of transacting mercantile affairs. The business was founded in 1847, and for more than forty years has been located in the premises at present occupied. Originally conducted under the style of Mann, Simpson, and Byars, the existing trade-designation was definitely adopted some thirty-three years ago ; the interests of the great concern at the present time being vested in Mr. John G. Couper and Mr. James Mann, the latter being a son of the senior co-founder of the house.

    The growing exigencies of business have from time to time necessitated the enlargement of premises, and it is safe to affirm that at the present moment few firms of merchants and manufacturers possess a more complete centre of industrial activity than is afforded by the magnificent warehouse in Glassford Street, or the factories in Virginia Street and Dunlop Street. The premises as a whole necessarily cover a very great space of ground, extending through from Glassford Street to Virginia Street, and abutting on Argyle Street, where the retail department is located. Few buildings devoted to business purposes in Glasgow can for a moment compare in structural and architectural completeness and elegance with the Glassford Street structure occupied by Messrs. Mann, Byars, and Co. The lofty and classic frontage is beautifully supported by six Corinthian pillars surmounted by capitals, and rendering the entire facade attractive in the last degree. The portion of the premises facing Argyle Street was raised some sixteen years ago by the addition of one storey. Curiously enough, both the Argyle Street and the Glassford Street frontages cover what were formerly the sites of two hotels, the “Black Bull” and the “Commercial Hotel” respectively. The ill-starred City of Glasgow Bank formerly occupied a portion of the firm’s Virginia Street block, and one of the Bank’s strong rooms is now employed in storing the books and valuables of Messrs. Mann, Byars, and Co. Throughout the premises the completest methods of sanitation have been adopted, the light supplied is of the most ample character, while the communication between the several floors is effected by means of four hydraulic lifts, three of which are used for goods only, a special one being constructed for the use of customers, thereby saving them the fatigue of mounting by the stairs.

    Entering the vast warehouse, the mind of the visitor begins to realise the extent and the importance of the business transacted by the firm. The firm has provided every facility calculated to ensure the comfort of its staff of employees. On the upper floor of the premises is located the commodious dining hall for the use of the assistants, which is a great boon to the young men, they being able to obtain meals comfortably without leaving the premises.

    The establishment is replete with a stock of matchless value and variety in flannels, hosiery, laces, cloths, tweeds, ribbons, winceys, small wares, stuffs, prints, white cottons, linens, shawls, grey cottons, bonnets, mantles, silks, ready-made men’s, youths’, and boys’ clothing, shirts, umbrellas, skirtings, boots and shoes, carpets, damask, floor-cloths, mattings, logs of every description, and a host of other items, the mere enumeration of which would^ carry us far beyond the space-limits at our disposal in the present sketch.

    This is an enterprise in which, as a matter of course, the ladies are very specially interested. To the well-cultivated feminine mind the judicious adornment of the person in conformity with the laws and principles which regulate refined taste form a subject of careful study and inquiry. Such ladies may very naturally view Messrs. Mann, Byars, and Company’s retail warehouse in Argyle Street with feelings of special favour, as placing in the market goods of a thoroughly standard and representative character. “Beauty unadorned, adorned the most” has a very pleasing effect on the ear as a poetical sentence, but its beauty is wonderfully apt to stop short at the poetical element, and scarcely would be recognised as totalling up to very much as a factor in the requirements of the nineteenth century, which demands the very type of goods which Messrs. Mann, Byars, and Co. have, with such public-spirited enterprise, set within the reach of the ladies of the United Kingdom in general, and Glasgow in particular. Goods are supplied in every known quality at the shortest notice : each department being under distinct and efficient personal supervision, a condition of management which ensures to both buyer and seller the highest attainable advantages.

    In the retail departments a first-class stock is at all times submitted to inspection. Included therein are numerous rich specialities in silks and Continental dress fabrics. There is also a fine display of Manchester goods, gentlemen’s outfitting, drapery, ribbons, and laces, while the show-rooms for the display of millinery, mantles, and costume goods are extremely elegant in appointment, and afford illustration of all the styles and fashions of the day under the most desirable conditions.

    Messrs. Mann, Byars, and Co. are also extensive manufacturers of various classes of the goods sold in their shops and warehouses. The extensive factory in Virginia Street is fully equipped with a valuable plant, including some five or six hundred sewing machines, and employment is here given to a staff of nine hundred hands. Mantles, millinery, costumes, underclothing, and ready-made clothing are here manufactured in great quantities and on the most approved principles, while a separate department is also assigned to bespoke tailoring.

    Throughout the entire establishment the results of wide experience and sound judgment are everywhere perceptible, and few firms employing so many as thirteen hundred hands can boast of so great an absence of friction throughout the entire organisation.

    It hardly needs to be added that, with the unsurpassed resources and facilities at its disposal, the firm is enabled to offer special advantages to customers and to execute the largest orders for either the home or export markets in the promptest and most satisfactory manner. It is such firms as that of Messrs. Mann, Byars, and Co. that are the best exponents of the various branches of British mercantile activity, and no one will deny the eminence of the position to which, in its particular line, the house has attained. A worldwide trade is controlled, and the favour in which the house is held by every class of the community making use of it is a gratifying consummation of the firm’s continuous endeavours to place in every market to which its operations extend a class of goods which, in respect of superiority of material, excellence of workmanship, and reasonableness in cost, shall stand in favourable comparison with the choicest productions of the British or Continental drapery and sartorial emporia.

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