I was sad to see that Allders department store in Croydon closed down yesterday (23.9.12) after 150 years.
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.
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 enetreprises remain), Arberys Wantage, Mortons Faringdon, Westsports (Faringdon and until around 2014 Swindon), Oddbins (still trading although many stores have closed), Habitat (still trading although many stores have closed), Focus DIY, 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), 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, Hornsea Pottery, Clinton Cards (nearly; they went bankrupt but have been bought out 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), Woolworths, 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 (now re-named under the Currys brand), Athena, Radio Rentals, Freeman, Hardy and Willis (ceased trading in the mid-1990s), Comet (went into administration in November 2012 with all its stores closing shortly after that), Dewhurst, 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. The Gateway and Kwik Save brands had already disappeared by then), and Midland Bank (taken over by HSBC in 1992 and its branches were renamed HSBC from 1999). 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. Threshers and Victoria Wine the wine merchants went bankrupt around 2010.
Are there more?
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.
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.
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.
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.