Debenhams is a multinational retailer from Britain operating under a format of a department store in Ireland and the United Kingdom, and it has franchise stores in other nations. The firm was founded in the 18th century in London as a single store; it has now grown to a total of 178 locations across Denmark, Ireland and the UK. The company sells a wide range of furniture, household items and clothing, and since 1993, it has been known for its brand range of 'Designers at Debenhams'.
October 2010, the company announced the launch of 4 new names of designers to its fashion range: Roksanda Ilincic, Jonathan Kelsey, Preen and Jonathan Saunders. They started working with the company on a new concept known as Edition. Also, stores include concessions whereby other retailers can trade. The brands in stores include Warehouse, Phase Eight, Coast and Oasis.
William Clark formed the business in 1778; he started trading in London at 44 Wigmore Street as a drapers' store. William Debenham became a partner in 1813 and the name of the corporation changed and became Clark & Debenham. Later, the shop was renamed to Cavendish House, and it carried lace, hosiery, millinery, silks, drapery plus family mourning goods. The trade grew and the partners decided to expand the business and opened provincial branches in Harrogate, Yorkshire, England and Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England.
In 1905, the company was then incorporated as Debenhams Limited. The modern Debenhams group originated from the purchase of department stores in cities and towns throughout the United Kingdom, under the leadership of Ernest Debenham, who was the chairman. The first of these acquisitions, Marshall & Snelgrove located at Oxford Street, London, was purchased in 1920 through an on sided incorporation.
Most of these purchased stores retained their previous identities until after rolling out a unified corporate image. In 1928, the firm was listed for the first time on the LSE (London Stock Exchange), which was shortly after purchasing Drapery Trust. The company purchased Browns of Chester in 1976. It remains the only United Kingdom store that retained an individual identity.
The Burton Group acquired the company in 1985. Following the closure of the Dudley store in Jan 1981 and the store in Birmingham in 1983, the firm's only store located in the West Midlands region for the next 6 years was a store in the town centre in Walsall. The company opened a store in Brierley Hill at Intu Merry Hill (Merry Hill Shopping Centre) on 4 November 1989.
In January 1998, Debenhams dissolved the merger from the Burton Group; it was listed again as a separate firm on the LSE. The company expanded under Belinda Earl's leadership after he was appointed as the chief executive officer in 2000. In 2013, the company moved to another headquarters in Brock Street, in London. During 2017, the company opened two new stores: in Wolverhampton and Stevenage.
Stevenage store was opened at Leisure Park and Roaring Meg Retail on 24 August 2017 by Julien MacDonald, who is a Celebrity fashion designer, and Jean Robinson, a local hero who won a competition previously for the privilege. This is the first store to be designed under Sergio Bucher's vision, with a new format and layout with the emphasis put on encouraging customers to stay longer.
The other store to open during the same year was the 93,000-square-foot store located at Wolverhampton's Mander Centre. It opened on 12 Oct 2017 as the first store owned by the company in Wolverhampton, and as part of the 35-million-pound refurbishment of the centre. It's only the second one to ever feature the new layout earlier witnessed in the Stevenage store, plus only the second one to feature the firm's new deli-restaurant format called Loaf & Bloom, which was only seen before at Milton Keynes.
Currently, the company operates more than 250 stores all over the world and has more than 25, 0000 employees reflecting their reputation of delivering the latest styles plus an exceptional shopping experience.