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Tony Hammond, founder of Hammonds of Knutsford, dies

Published:  10 November, 2015

Tony Hammond, the well-known and much loved founder and chairman of Hammonds of Knutsford plc has died after 55 years in the hospitality sector. He was 79.

Tony was born in 1936 in Heaton Moor, Stockport.

He started in business selling bingo tickets, and in 1960 established J Hammond & Co in Wilmslow, which sold Havana cigars and matches.

The business began to expand quickly after Tony identified an opportunity to supply cigarette-vending machines into the licensed trade.

By the early 1970s, Tony was wholesaling alcohol to his well-established regional customer base. One of the first wines he sold was Geisweiler, from Burgundy.

Customers at the time included local celebrities such as Francis Lee and Mike Summerbee of Manchester City, who would come to his premises to buy cigars and Champagne.

In 1980, the company moved to Knutsford and took the name under which it is known today.

Tony welcomed his son Jonathan into the business in the mid-1980s, and his daughter Charlotte the following decade.

With the extra support his family provided, the business was able to expand into a range of new markets and quickly became the business it is today: a national supplier of wine, Champagnes and spirits.

Hammonds of Knutsford became a plc in 2000, and Tony stepped back from the day-to-day running of the business. His son Jonathan became managing director while Tony became chairman, remaining very active in its affairs. Charlotte is senior account executive at the company.

His family released the following statement through the company's website on Friday.

"It is with great sadness that we must announce the passing of Tony Hammond, the founder and chairman of Hammonds of Knutsford plc at the tender age of 79.

"Having served the hospitality industry for in excess of 55 years, Tony until his last days was seen in his beloved business on a daily basis, interacting with all he came across.

"He will be sorely missed by all that have known him, especially his loving family and the rest of the Hammonds team.

"It will take some getting used to, not seeing him in the business with his larger than life character and his fondness for an afternoon glass of Champagne whilst conversing with the staff - sometimes about work or sometimes about just what was going on.

"Whilst we have shed a few tears over the past few days we can only wish that Tony rests eternally in peace and thank him one final time for giving so much to this world and the people that knew him well.

"Jean, Jonathan and Charlotte would like to thank all for the well wishes at this difficult time."

A memorial service is being held at 3pm on November 18 at Dunham Massey Crematorium.