Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 148,386 pages of information and 233,857 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.


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of 91, Wimpole Street, London

1905 Public limited company established. It acquired:

  • Debenham and Co, Warehousemen
  • Debenham et Cie., Agents and Commissionaires
  • Debenhams (Australia) Proprietary, Ltd.
  • Debenham, Gardiner & Co., Ltd., New York
  • Debenhams (Canada), Ltd.
  • Debenhams (South Africa), Ltd.
  • Debenham's Continental, Ltd., Brussels.

And retail businesses:

And Manufacturing Business:

WWI There was a substantial fall in the so-called "luxury" trade. By 1916 a working relationship had been established with another London retailer, Marshall and Snelgrove, with the idea of preserving retail operations in the war economy.

1919 Full merger with Marshall and Snelgrove who were experiencing financial difficulties.

1920 Took over Harvey Nichols.

1927 Debenhams Ltd acquired a controlling interest in the ordinary shares of the Drapery Trust which controlled a lage number of drapery stores and department stores (including Marshalls Ltd, Footman, Pretty and Co and Swan and Edgar)

Ernest Debenham's final years with the business were marked by increasingly complex financial deals. All of the ordinary shares were held by Debenhams Securities Ltd. The number of subsidiary companies exceeded 30, mostly department stores.

1927 Ernest retired and sold most of his shares in the company, effectively ending the family connections.

1934 Debenhams Ltd, Debenhams Securities Ltd and the Drapery Trust agreed to merge[1]

1973 Debenhams Ltd acquired Lotus[2].

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Times Jan. 11, 1934
  2. The Times, Aug 02, 1973
  • Biography of Sir Ernest Debenham, ODNB