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Historic stores set to be reunited after 35 years apart

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Cotton Bros has been a notable name in St Helens and beyond since it was founded back in 1947 when its only product available was black pudding due to the meat rationing after the second world war.

The range and volume of products increased over the years resulting in the business moving from its initial location at the back of the family house on Tolver Street, to a larger premises on Kirkland Street and then to its current location on Lock Street.

The company quickly became not only a borough favourite, but the region’s go-to name for hotpots, sausages and black pudding.

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Founded by brothers, John and Chris Cottom, the business was passed down to their son’s, Peter and Chris, but 35 years ago the decision to go their separate ways was made with Chris opening Cottom Foods in Widnes.

Despite both trading under the Cottom name, both businesses have run as two separate entities since then.

Will Munro, originally from Stockport, has now taken ownership of both stores and plans to bring the family business back together under one name.

He told the ECHO : “I bought Cottoms Foods back in September 2015 and I bought it because it’s a good, consistent product and it has a good following from customers.

“I thought it was a good business that we could grow and, over the last six years, we’ve quadrupled the turnover of the business. That’s through focusing on the customer and not changing any of the recipes or the products because that’s what makes it work.”

After witnessing the success and popularity of Cottom Foods, Will approached Peter, owner of Cottom Bros in St Helens, two years back and the two began talking about the potential of taking over the St Helens store – which was finalised at the beginning of September this year.

The change has been welcomed by St Helens born Peter, who began helping his Dad out with the company when he was 15, and was officially employed at 20 years old.

He told the ECHO: “Will has done a brilliant job in making Cottoms Foods a much busier business than it was and I assume that’s the same thing he is going to do here.

“The most important thing to me was that the recipes are maintained and all the staff get to keep their jobs, which they all are.”

His decision to step away from Cottom Bros was cemented after the hopes he had for either of his son’s to take over the business didn’t materialise as they both decided it wasn’t the right move for them.

Peter, now 66, has always been hands-on with Cottoms, stating that he has never had time away after working on site every day for as long as he can remember.



Peter Cottom and Will Munro
Peter Cottom and Will Munro

But while he has dedicated nearly every day to the company for the last 46 years, he said he is going to find it ‘great’ stepping away.

Talking of his plans for once he officially steps away at the end of the year, he said: “I like golf, so there’s a couple days a week sorted – and walking our little dog.

“I just need to spend more time with my wife and family. My wife has been retired for eight years after working as a nurse and she took early retirement.

“My mother is still alive, she’s 102. And of course traveling, see more of the world because we’ve never really been able to get away on holidays and be able to relax because the business has always been on the back of my mind.

“So there’s going to be lots of things for me to do – I’m excited.”

Already a famous name across the region, Will said his primary focus is to continue to grow the product and be able to deliver it to more people across the country.

He said: “Everyone raves about the pies so it’s important to me that we try to extend the reach of the distribution of the product.”

On whether the processes change as it comes away from being a small family run business, Will said: “I don’t think it will change.

“We’re not a big organisation that’s taking it over, I’m a one man band and I’ll continue to run it like it was a family business and it will not become a corporate business.

“‘Our main objective is to make sure we supply the people of St Helens with hotpots over Christmas!”

Peter added: “It will definitely unify the two stores, it's one of Will’s plans to bring all the parts of the businesses back together again.

“It’s the right time for me and Will is the right guy to take it over and take us forward. I’m excited.”



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