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Sir Pryce Pryce-Jones (16 October 1834 – 11 January 1920) was a Welsh entrepreneur who was one of the first to succeed in the mail order business.

Life history

Pryce-Jones was born in Llanllwchaiarn, just outside Newtown, Montgomeryshire in Wales.[1] He was apprenticed to a local draper, John Davies, and took over Davies's business in 1856. In the same year he married Eleanor Rowley Morris of Newtown. Pryce-Jones started with his own little shop selling drapery just off Broad Street. Renamed the Royal Welsh Warehouse, the business flourished.[2] Newtown had always had a woollen industry and it was the local Welsh flannel which formed the mainstay of Pryce-Jones' business.

Post Office reforms and the arrival of the railways in Newtown helped turn the small rural concern into a global company. Pryce-Jones hit upon a unique method of selling his wares. People would choose what they wanted from leaflets he sent out and the goods would then be dispatched by post and train. It was an ideal way of meeting the needs of customers in isolated rural locations who were either too busy or unable to get into Newtown to shop. It was the world's first mail order business and it was to change the nature of retailing throughout the world.

The further expansion of the railways in the years that followed allowed Pryce Jones to take orders from further afield and his business grew rapidly. He built up an impressive list of customers - among them Florence Nightingale as well as Queen Victoria, the Princess of Wales and royal households across Europe. He also began selling Welsh flannel from Newtown to America and even Australia.

Several times, he was forced to re-locate to bigger premises. In 1879, he built the Royal Welsh Warehouse, a tall red brick building in the centre of Newtown which still stands today and which is still home to a mail order company, albeit not the original Pryce-Jones company.

By 1880, he had more than 100,000 customers and his success was acknowledged by Queen Victoria in 1887 with a knighthood, when he became Sir Pryce Pryce-Jones. He was also elected Member of Parliament for Montgomery from 1885 to 1886, and from 1892 to 1895. In 1891, Pryce-Jones became the High Sheriff of Montgomeryshire.

Pryce-Jones died in 1920 at the age of 85. The company he had built up over decades was hit badly by the depression of the 1920s and 1930s, being taken over by a Liverpool company in 1938.

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Frederick Hanbury-Tracy
Member of Parliament for Montgomery
18851886
Succeeded by
Frederick Hanbury-Tracy
Preceded by
Frederick Hanbury-Tracy
Member of Parliament for Montgomery
18921895
Succeeded by
Edward Pryce-Jones

References

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