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The Cromwell evolution

From one-man band to global presence

Cromwell began with one man, Michael Gregory, on Cromwell Crescent in Market Harborough in 1968. With nothing but a car boot full of saws and shovels and a bucketload of ambition.

Our first branch came just two years later. Fast forward 50 years and we are now a network of branches and offices across Britain and around the world. With a hard-working and dedicated team that always puts the customer front and centre in everything we do.

In 2015 Cromwell became part of the W.W. Grainger, Inc. family, North America’s leading broad line supplier of maintenance, repair and operating (MRO) products to businesses and institutions – gaining the benefit of their financial strength and supply chain and ecommerce expertise.

The Cromwell evolution timeline

1968The Cromwell Tools success story begins
1970First UK shop opens in Wilberforce Road, Leicester
1974First two branches open in Bedford and Stockton
1975Nottingham/Coventry branches open
1978Cromwell Leicester relocates to Freemen's Common
1979Kennedy International founded
Cromwell's first branch in Leicester, 1970.

1970 - Cromwell first branch in Leicester

1982The Kennedy Group founded
1983Group HQ and central stores opens in Wigston, Leicester
1983Kennedy Metrology Laboratory is founded
1987First 'Industry meets its Suppliers' exhibition held at Head Office in Wigston
1988UKAS accreditation acquired
1991First Kennedy Tools catalogue is published
A wide airshot of Cromwell's head office based in South Wigston, Leicestershire.

Cromwell Head Office, Wigston

1992£50m turnover achieved
1994First Engineering Tools catalogue is published
1997First overseas branch opens in Johannesburg, South Africa
1997Email/Internet first used
1998Supply Point Vending System is launched
2000£100m turnover achieved
Isles of racking, highlighting the sheer size of Cromwell's industrial strength at the world distribution centre.

Cromwell World Distribution Center, Wigston

2001CNew purpose built WDC opens in Wigston, Leicester
2003First Industrial Supplies catalogue published
2004Apex group acquired
2007TED (Ireland) acquired
2009Australia branch opens
2015Cromwell acquired by W.W. Grainger, Inc., North America's leading broad line supplier of MRO products, at a cost of £310m
Cromwell's blue vending machine with the Cromwell logo on the side, ready to be used as an Inventory Management System.

Keepstock - Inventory Management Systems

2016WDC warehouse undergoes £10m restructure
2018'Cromwell Live', our biggest Industrial Supplies show to date is hosted at the NEC, Birmingham
2018CSC open in West Mids
2019Rebrand of Cromwell
2020Acquisition of Task N.I. Limited, a successful safety distribution business in Northern Ireland
2023Deal with the administrators of our well-respected competitor Monks & Crane. The agreement saw three branches, stock, vending machines and 40 employees transferring over to Cromwell
Cromwell electric fleet van supporting ecology and reducing the carbon footprint during everyday work.

Cromwell Fleet - Electric Van