Tributes paid to Wirral businessman who founded Vernons Pools empire

TRIBUTES were last night paid to the Wirral businessman who built up the Liverpool-based Vernons Pools empire.

George Randall Kennerley built up Vernons Pools into one of the “big three”– including Littlewoods and Copes – eventually employing more than 3,000 people.

Last night his son-in-law, Alan Bleakley, Professor of Medical Education at the Universities of Exeter and Plymouth, said Mr Kennerley – known to many simply as Ken – “had a long life but was ready to go”.

He had lived in Wirral for more than 60 years, most recently in Caldy.

But Ken began life in more modest circumstances. His father, a violinist in the London Philharmonic Orchestra, died in the Great War and the family struggled to make ends meet.

He often told the story of how, when living around the corner from Queens Park Rangers football club as a boy, he would store the bicycles of fans during the match in a basement for a few pence a time.

This was his first business. Later, he met and married an elegant fashion model, Dorothy Hardy, and promised her that he would make a success of his life.

Ken began his career working for Selfridge’s in the advertising department and rapidly became successful, with inventive ideas such as projecting advertising on to the underside of the clouds in the sky – an idea that was quickly halted as it would have caused havoc to London traffic.

In the early 1930s, he was headhunted by John Lewis in London and by Peacock’s in Liverpool – he chose Peacock’s.

While there his reputation for business acumen came to the attention of Vernon Sangster, who had inherited Edmonds, a Manchester department store, and was looking to expand his interests.

[url=Vernon Sangster had a side-business – collecting bets on the outcome of football matches from “punters in pubs”. Ken suggested formalising this business and Vernon’s Pools was born.]THE WIRRAL News[/url]

Edited by _jase_ (5th May 2009 2:05pm)