Brothers go from rags to riches

Brothers go from rags to riches

Two brothers who launched a business selling old rags to garages in and around Liverpool 30 years ago are celebrating their 30th anniversary with the Prince’s Trust.

Wray Brothers, a multi-million pound printed workwear and janitorial supplies company, is marking its 30th anniversary by bringing back its original company name Willy Wiper as a mascot for a special campaign to raise money for The Prince’s Trust.

Shortly after the Toxteth riots in the early 1980s, brothers Graham and Mark Wray were struggling to find work and decided the best way to find employment was to get their own business up and running. They contacted The Prince’s Trust and were given a £3,000 loan and a business mentor to kick-start their ambitions through the Trust’s Enterprise programme.

Willy Wiper began as a rags and wipers business in 1985, selling old clothes as rags to garages in and around Liverpool. Shortly after setting up, the Trust’s president and founder HRH the Prince of Wales visited Graham and Mark to see its success in action.

Since then it has grown in to a thriving operation, offering over 4,500 items to schools, universities and other businesses across the UK and abroad. With its expansion came the decision to change the company name to Wray Brothers in 1992, to reflect the growing number of services and products it offered.

Now a multi-million pound business, Wray Bros is based on Pleasant Hill Street where it employs 22 staff from the local area. From the business centre, Graham and Mark offer support and mentoring to start-ups, office space to let and run training courses.

Graham Wray said: “When me and my brother first thought of setting up a business, I would never have imagined I’d be here today, 30 years later celebrating its anniversary and getting the opportunity to give back to The Prince’s Trust, where it all began.

“What started off as a small business buying clothes from charity shops and selling them on as rags is now an operation with 4,500 products on a 138-page catalogue.”

The Prince’s Trust is the Prince of Wales’ oldest and largest charity which celebrated its 40th anniversary this year.

Since its inception in 1976, the charity has helped youngsters from vulnerable and disadvantaged backgrounds get into some form of employment, education or training.

In these 40 years, the trust has helped over 825,000 young people to better their lives. 


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