In March 1919 when it seemed likely that their brother Leslie would soon be discharged from military service, Stanley Rose and Charles Rose formed a partnership which they called Rose Brothers. Later that year, Leslie Rose joined them, and a small establishment was set up in tiny premises at No 16 Rosoman Street in London’s Clerkenwell district.
Here, at a rent of £1 a week, with a staff of one lad at 10 shillings a week and negligible capital, the brothers began to trade as merchants, mainly dealing in toys and similar merchandise.
Their sister, Clara, (later to become Mrs. Freeman, Company Secretary for 43 years) opened the partnership’s first set of books, though at that time she was employed by a company of East India merchants. After a few months she was invited to become the first office staff of Rose Bros., and the firm began the uphill task of establishing itself. Progress was slow – too slow for Charles, who left the partnership and went abroad.
Prior to the war the mouth-organ had been a popular music maker, particularly with London’s Cockney stratum: being made exclusively in Germany at that day, mouth-organs had well-nigh disappeared from the scene. Their reappearance after the war was an opportunity for the Rose Brothers. Severely hampered by lack of funds, nevertheless the company was to become one of the largest stockists of mouth-organs by the nineteen-thirties.
1920 saw continuing slow progress. It was not easy to obtain supplies of merchandise: considerable opposition to the newcomers was experienced in those early days, from many established manufacturers and suppliers.
Years before, Stanley Rose had been employed by a wholesaler of musical small-goods (Ball, Bevan & Co. – now extinct) where he had met and worked beside one Alfred Victor Morris. Both had acquired an excellent knowledge of the small goods trade, and had remained in touch ever since.
In October, 1920, A. V. Morris joined the Rose brothers and the name of the company was changed to Rose, Morris & Co., Ltd. This, then, was the foundation of the company in the name which it now bears.