I was sad to see that Allders department store in Croydon closed down yesterday (23.9.12) after 150 years.
I’ve thought of a few more big name losses in recent or not so recent years –
Selfridges Oxford (which later traded as Lewis’s, then Allders), Owen Owen, Lewis’s Liverpool (the last remaining Lewis’s, which I understand has now closed), Dunn & Co, Caleys Windsor (although John Lewis continues trading), Fenwick Oxford and Fenwick Lakeside Thurrock (Fenwick continues trading elsewhere), Simpsons of Piccadilly (although Simpson is no longer trading as it was, the DAKS Simpson brand of menswear and womenswear continues rebranded under the DAKS name), some Co-op department stores (many of these have closed, for example in Oxford, Reading and Colchester; the Co-operative Group no longer has any department stores, but some of the independent co-operative societies, which trade under the same banner, still have them, e.g. the Heart of England Co-op has department stores on Corporation Street in Coventry and Abbey Street in Nuneaton; and Co-op food shops and various other enterprises remain), Arberys Wantage, Mortons Faringdon, Westsports (Faringdon and until around 2014 Swindon), Oddbins (went bankrupt in 2011 but is still trading, although many stores have closed), however they went bankrupt again in February 2019, but fortunately as of April 2019 are still trading. Habitat (went bankrupt in 2011, but is still trading, although many stores have closed – purchased by Sainsbury’s (along with Argos) in 2016), MFI furniture shops closed down in 2008, Focus DIY (was owned by Boots at one point, went bust in 2011), British Bookshops / Sussex Stationers (many shops closed down; some were purchased by WHSmith in 2011; I’m not sure if there are any branches still trading under the British Bookshops name but I don’t think so), Barratts Shoes (this company also used to make shoes – went into administration in 2013, the stores have closed but the name is still used for an online shop; Dolcis shoes were purchased by Barratts/Stylo in 2008 and re-branded Barratts and has since closed), Witney Blankets (various factories and brand names), Lewis’s, C&A (still trading in Europe, C&A closed all its UK stores in 2001), HMV (sold by EMI in 1998, went bankrupt in 2013 and, whilst many stores have closed, continues trading and was owned by Hilco and now Sports Direct), Blockbuster the US video rental stores closed down in 2013 – a couple of Blockbuster franchises remain trading in the USA, Hornsea Pottery, Clinton Cards (nearly; founded in 1968 they went bankrupt in 2012 but have been bought out by American Greetings and remain trading), Allders, Allders Croydon, McIlroys Swindon, McIlroys elsewhere (e.g. Reading) – William McIlroy was a group of department stores started in Swindon in 1875 and final Swindon store closed in 1998. The Reading store closed in 1955. The clock tower was removed from the Swindon store in the 1960s; JT Morgan of Swansea, David Morgan of Cardiff, Peacocks (entered administration in 2012 and subsequently became part of the Edinburgh Woollen mill and continues trading), Aquascutum (purchased by a Chinese company and still trading but will they keep making clothes in the UK? Their factory was purchased by Swaine Adeney Brigg but has now closed). Jaeger, established in 1884, collapsed in 2017 and was purchased by the Edinburgh Woollen Mill and continues trading. Woolworths – a shopping mecca selling everything from boiled sweets to records under one roof, Woolworths opened its first branch in the U.K. in 1909. In the late 2000s, all its 807 stores were shut down as it went into administration. The Argyle Street branch in Glasgow, Scotland, was the last to close – in January 2009. Nearly 30,000 jobs were affected in the move. Woolworths are still going in Australia., Game (this company still seem to be trading), Blacks and Millets (together with their Peter Storm and Eurohike brands; nearly; they are still trading at some locations; sold to JD Sports), Jacksons of Reading (closed 24.12.13), Turtles of Croydon. Whiteleys Department Store in the Bayswater area of London (credited on the internet as London’s first department store and it apparently had a theatre and a golf-course on the roof) closed in 1981 and is now a shopping centre, Dixons (closed down in 2006 and now re-named under the Currys brand. the Dixons Carphone and Dixons Travel brands are still used at some airports), Athena (closed own in 2014), Radio Rentals (closed in the UK but some stores remain in Australia), Freeman, Hardy and Willis (founded in the 1870s, ceased trading in the mid-1990s, having become part of the now broken up British Shoe Corporation which was once part of Sears), Comet (went into administration in November 2012 with all its stores closing shortly after that), Dewhurst the butchers chain closed down in 2006, Fine Fare (acquired by Associated British Foods in 1963. In 1986, ABF sold the company to The Dee Corporation (subsequently known as Somerfield). Following this, all Dee Corporation’s newly acquired stores were rebranded as Gateway or closed, and the Fine Fare name had disappeared by the end of the 1980s. Somerfield was taken over by the Co-operative Group in March 2009 and the Somerfield name was phased out and replaced by the Co-operative brand in a rolling programme of store conversions ending in summer 2011 (although I have heard they might bring the name back). Some stores were later purchased from the Co-op by the Food Retailer Group and now trade as Budgens. The Gateway and Kwik Save brands had already disappeared by then). Safeway was taken over by Morrisons in 2011 who phased out the name by 2005. Midland Bank (taken over by HSBC in 1992 and its branches were renamed HSBC from 1999). Spanish bank Santander took over and renamed as Santander bank the former building societies Abbey National, Bradford & Bingley and Alliance & Leicester, so these names have all disappeared now and duplicate branches were closed. On Kensington High Street was Barkers of Kensington (closed 2006), Derry & Toms (closed 1973) and Pontings (closed 1971). Barkers bought Pontings in 1906 and Derry & Toms in 1920, but continued to run all three as separate entities. House of Fraser bought Barkers in 1957. House of Fraser closed Dickins & Jones in Regent Street in 2006 and re-branded the Dickins & Jones regional stores at Epsom, Richmond, and Milton Keynes as House of Fraser in 2007. Affleck & Brown in Manchester (taken over by Debenhams in the 1950s) was closed in 1973. Gamages was a department store in Holborn in Central London which closed in 1972. Grant Bros (Grants of Croydon) closed in 1985. British Home Stores (BHS) – sadly the last of these stores closed down on 28/8/16. Greenwoods Menswear who went bust (again) in 2017 and sadly finally closed down completely in January 2019. Threshers and Victoria Wine the wine merchants went bankrupt around 2010. Maplin Electronics went into administration during the first quarter of 2018 and has now closed down. Phones4U went into administration in 2014 and has since closed down. Past Times was started in 1986 and sold quite a few British made gift items but sadly went into administration in 2012 (WHSmith apparently purchased the brand name but I have not heard of it since). JJB Sports closed down in 2012. Littlewoods started out in 1023 but sadly closed down in 2005 (there is still a sperate Littlewoods website). Our Price Records was sold to WHSmith in 1986 and in a succession of mergers and buyouts since, the name has disappeared. Toys-r-Us closed down in 2018. Laskeys hifi who had shops in Oxford, London and elsewhere appear to have gone bankrupt at some point. Hardy Amies, couturier and once the Queen’s dressmaker, went into administration for a second time at the beginning of 2019. There was an online store and and a physical outlet in London but both have now closed. Berketex, the bridalwear retailer and producer, went into administration in the latter part of November 2018 and has now closed down. Evans Cycles, the long-established supplier of bicycles, cycling-wear and accessories, went into administration at the end of October 2018 and has since been purchased by Sports Direct and continues trading. Gardman Group, one of the UK’s largest suppliers of garden products founded in 1992, went into administration in 2018 and has now been purchased by Westland Horticulture (also trades as Unwins) and continues trading. American Golf, Europe’s largest golf retailer, went into administration in 2018 but now continues trading. Calvetron Brands Limited (formerly Jacques Vert Group and Style Group Brands) the British fashion house and womenswear concession retailer, owners of Jacques Vert, Dash, Windsmoor, Planet and Eastex, went into administration in 2018 but continues trading. Betterware and Kleeneze went into administration in 2018, with Betterware closing but Kleeneze still trading. Palmer and Harvey, the major wholesaler of food, alcohol and tobacco products, went into administration in November 2018 and closed down. Booker, another wholesaler, was purchased by Tesco while the Co-op bought wholesaler and brand Nisa, in 2017. Multiyork and Feather & Black, the furniture retailers, closed down in 2017. Zatchels, a satchel and bag manufacturer and retailer based in Leicester, went into administration in July 2017 and was bought out by its two founders and is still trading. Jones The Bootmaker, founded 1857, went into administration in 2017 but still continues trading, albeit they no longer make boots themselves in the UK. Staples, the stationery specialist, in 2016 the US owner of Staples sold the UK arm to Hilco who closed the high street stores. Specsavers Optical Lens processing operations , in Aston Laboratories, Birmingham, serving Specsavers’ opticians stores in the UK and Ireland closed in 2016 with production moving to Poland. Austin Reed (and Viyella and Country Casuals stores), the tailoring brand had 155 stores, closed down in 2016, with some stores and the brand names going to Boundary Mills/Edinburgh Woollen Mill. Austins of Derry, founded in 1830 and one of the world’s oldest department stores, closed down in 2016. Timothy Whites was a British chain of dispensing chemist and houseware stores, taken over by Boots the Chemist in 1968 who closed the last Timothy Whites store in 1985, which by that time only sold housewares. Mexx, the Dutch fashion brand, closed its UK stores and concessions in 2008. Tie Rack, the necktie, scarf and accessories fashion retailer whose shops were often small ones at railway stations, closed down its UK shops in 2013. Principles and Principles For Men was was launched by the Burton Group (now Arcadia Group) in 1984, who had some stand alone stores and operated as a concession in Debenhams, sadly closed down Principles For Men in the late 1990s and Principles was sold by Burton eventually coming back to the ownership of the now independent again Debenhams who now use the name for some women’s clothing. Jessops, the camera retailer, closed its doors in 2013. TJ Hughes went into administration in 2011 but fortunately the group has been resurrected by Lewis Home Retail and now have 28 stores. Borders, the US bookstore chain closed its UK stores down in 2009.
There are more – this article lists some of the more recent closures.
Below is a video of Woolworths in Abingdon in December 2008, just before it finally closed. They used to have a great little record department. Woolworths are still going in Australia.
I was sad to learn that Calders Menswear in Cardiff closed down just before Christmas in 2013.
For example, Elliston & Cavell in Oxford was re-branded as Debenhams 1973 (having been purchased by Debenhams in 1953); more recently Arding and Hobbs which was acquired from Allders is now trading as Debehams. Paulden’s in Manchester was re-branded as Debenhams in the 1970s. Marshall & Snelgrove (taken over by Debenhams in 1919) on Oxford Street, London was demolished and completely rebuilt between 1973 and 1975, when they re-opened as Debenhams. The remaining provincial Marshall and Snelgrove stores also became Debenhams. Some Marshall & Snelgrove stores have closed completely, for example Marshall & Snelgrove in Scarborough closed in 1972. Kennards in Croydon was re-branded as Debenhams in around 1973. Debenhams themselves went into administration in April 2019, but are currently still trading.
Heelas in Reading (AH Bull in Reading, which became part of JLP when acquired from Selfridges in 1940, was closed in 1953, the business subsumed in Heelas and the premises sold to Littlewoods) is now marketed as John Lewis; Robert Sayle Cambridge is now marketed as John Lewis. Bainbridge’s in Newcastle upon Tyne was re-branded as John Lewis in 2002.
Howells Cardiff is now branded as House of Fraser. Kendals (formerly Kendal Milne & Faulkner) in Manchester is now also branded as House of Fraser. Jenners Edinburgh is now part of and trading as House of Fraser. Cavendish House Cheltenham is also now part of and trading as House of Fraser. House of Fraser purchased Binns department stores in 1953 and whilst they still traded as Binns for ages in recent years they have been re-branded as House of Fraser, so for example Binns in Darlington, formerly an Owen Owen store is now called House of Fraser, as in Binns in Hull (formerly Hammonds) whilst Binns in Sunderland (later it became Co-Op Westgate and now it’s Beales) and Bridlington (formerly Carlton department store, then Hammonds) have now closed. DH Evans in Oxford Street was also re-branded as House of Fraser. Dingles in Plymouth has been re-branded as House of Fraser. Army and Navy now trades as House of Fraser.
Broadbents & Boothroyds of Southport, Denners of Yeovil, Whitakers in Bolton and Rochdale and Robbs of Hexham are all now -re-branded as Beales.
Hoppers, founded in 1982, have four department stores, in Torquay formerly Williams & Cox, since 1982), Harrogate, (originally the Harrogate branch of Marshall & Snelgrove, it became Cresta House (under the ownership of Debenhams) and latterly Schofields / Binns (owned for a time by House of Fraser), Tunbridge Wells, formerly Weekes, and Wilmslow, (formerly Finnigans, since 1982). Hoopers have closed their stores in Carlisle (formerly Bulloughs, closed 2013), Cheltenham, Chichester and Colchester.
Ricemans store in Canterbury was acquired by Fenwick in 1986, and was rebranded as Fenwick in 2003 following re-development of the site in 2003. Fenwick acquired the Bentalls group in 2001 which at that time comprised six department stores in Bracknell, Ealing, Kingston upon Thames, Lakeside, Tonbridge and Worthing. The Lakeside store was closed, and three branches (in Ealing, Tonbridge and Worthing) were subsequently sold to J E Beale and re-branded as Beales, with Fenwick retaining only two of the stores, in Kingston upon Thames and Bracknell (which are still branded as Bentalls).
There is a fairly comprehensive list of current and defunct British department stores on Wikipedia.
The lack of independent department stores worries me and the lack of variety on the high streets of the UK. Even though I shop a lot of the internet these days, I find it sad to lose good stores and especially department stores.
Since the introduction of smoking restrictions in around 2007, which banned smoking inside public houses, many pubs in the UK have closed down too. In the village of Kingston Bagpuize with Southmoor for example out of the three pubs only the Wagon and Horses remains open in July 2018, with the Lamb and Flag having closed in October 2016 and the Hinds Head having closed in December 2017.
Many petrol stations in the UK have closed down too. In the village of Kingston Bagpuize with Southmoor again, Palmers garage closed down years ago (around the late 1980s) and in recent years (as of 2018) Cross Roads Garage only sells and repairs cars and no longer has a petrol forecourt.
In recent years many banks have merged and many bank branches have been closed down, much to the chagrin of many of their customers. Lloyds Bank in Ashford, Middlesex for example closed down in 2017 and customers now need to visit Staines for their nearest Lloyds branch. In Oxford for example, Lloyds Bank on Broad Street has been closed. There are many more such closures of banks.
Also, have a look at my Been and Gone page – that page is about companies that you might expect to manufacture in the UK but actually manufacture abroad and companies who used to manufacture in the UK but do not anymore and companies that have closed down.
Please also see – Jacksons of Reading – in praise of a good old fashioned department store and Save Jacksons of Reading; Selfridges (Oxford) Ltd – a very brief history; and Department Stores in the UK.