Barrie Norton, founder and owner of Manchester designer menswear store Norton Barrie, has died aged 61.
Norton’s business started in 1969 and grew into a three-store mini chain with shops in Wilmslow and Warrington in Cheshire and Bolton.
The business, which sells the likes of D&G, Hugo Boss, Prada and Armani Jeans, started life in the Manchester suburb of Chorlton-cum-Hardy, and became a huge success before relocating to Warrington.
The two other stores followed, and the Warrington shop eventually tripled in size.
Norton Barrie became a destination store for brand-savvy shoppers from Manchester and Liverpool, with the cities’ professional footballers becoming some of its biggest fans.
Store manager Paul Harrison said: “Everybody knew Barrie, and we’ve had so many people phoning up the store to pay their respects.
“He was one of the real characters of the menswear retail sector. If you went for a night out with him, he would be the last one to go to bed.
“He would treat everyone as if they were his best friend and he was always very dapper. His idea of being casual was sometimes not wearing a tie.”
Neil Prosser, chief executive of Flannels, the Manchester-based designer mini chain, who was a friend of Norton’s, said: “Barrie was a humongous, exuberant and energised personality. He was also an excellent, enthusiastic and professional trader who was well respected. Barrie was ‘old school’ with great values and was loved by suppliers and customers alike. He worked hard, played hard and will be sadly missed by everyone.”
Stuart Austin, agent for menswear brand Pal Zileri, said: “People often talk about someone being a character, but Barrie really was a character in the best sense. He’s a sad loss.”
The Norton Barrie business will continue to be run by Harrison, Norton’s wife Kim and his son Blake.
The funeral took place on Tuesday at St John’s Church on High Lane in Chorlton-cum-Hardy. The service was attended by more than 500 people, including former Manchester United footballers Denis Law and Bryan Robson.