Selfridges, also known as Selfridges & Co., is a chain of high-end department stores in the United Kingdom, operated by Selfridges Retail Limited. It was founded by Harry Gordon Selfridge in 1908. The flagship store on London's Oxford Street is the second largest shop in the UK (after Harrods) and opened 15 March 1909. Other Selfridges stores opened in the Trafford Centre (1998) and Exchange Square (2002) in Manchester, and in the Bullring in Birmingham (2003).
In the 1940s, smaller provincial Selfridge stores were sold to the John Lewis Partnership, and in 1951, the original Oxford Street store was acquired by the Liverpool-based Lewis's chain of department stores. Lewis's and Selfridges were then taken over in 1965 by the Sears Group, owned by Charles Clore. Expanded under the Sears Group to include branches in Manchester and Birmingham, the chain was acquired in 2003 by Canada's Galen Weston for £598 million.
|Selfridges Retail Limited|
|Private limited company|
|Founder||Harry Gordon Selfridge|
|Headquarters||400 Oxford Street, London, United Kingdom|
Number of locations
Oxford Street, London
Trafford Centre, Manchester
Exchange Square, Manchester
|Alannah Weston, former creative director (2004-2014), and deputy chairman of parent company Selfridges Group (since 2014) |
Simon Forster, UK Managing Director (since 2019)
Linda Hewson, creative director (since 2014) 
|Owner||Galen Weston and family|
|Parent||Selfridges & Co. Limited|
The basis of Harry Gordon Selfridge's success was his relentlessly innovative marketing, which was elaborately expressed in his Oxford Street store. Originally from America himself, Selfridge attempted to dismantle the idea that consumerism was strictly an American phenomenon. He tried to make shopping a fun adventure and a form of leisure instead of a chore, transforming the department store into a social and cultural landmark that provided women with a public space in which they could be comfortable and legitimately indulge themselves. Emphasizing the importance of creating a welcome environment, he placed merchandise on display so customers could examine it, moved the highly profitable perfume counter front-and-centre on the ground floor, and established policies that made it safe and easy for customers to shop. These techniques have been adopted by modern department stores around the world.
Selfridge attracted shoppers with educational and scientific exhibits and was himself interested in education and science, believing that the displays would introduce potential new customers to Selfridges and thus generate both immediate and long-term sales.
In 1909, after the first cross-Channel flight, Louis Blériot's monoplane was put on display at Selfridges, where it was seen by 12,000 people. John Logie Baird made the first public demonstration of moving silhouette images by television from the first floor of Selfridges from 1 to 27 April 1925.
In the 1920s and 1930s, the roof of the store hosted terraced gardens, cafes, a mini golf course and an all-girl gun club. The roof, with its extensive views across London, was a common place for strolling after a shopping trip and was often used for fashion shows. During the Second World War, The store's basement was used as an air-raid shelter and during raids employees were usually on the lookout for incendiary bombs and took watch in turns. The store was bombed but survived comparatively unscathed except for the famous roof gardens, which were destroyed and not reopened until 2009.
A Milne-Shaw seismograph was set up on the Oxford Street store's third floor in 1932, attached to one of the building's main stanchions, where it remained unaffected by traffic or shoppers. It successfully recorded the Belgian earthquake of 11 June 1938, which was also felt in London. In 1947, it was given to the British Museum. The huge SIGSALY scrambling apparatus, by which transatlantic conferences between American and British officials (most notably Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt) were secured against eavesdropping, was housed in the basement from 1943 on, with extension to the Cabinet War Rooms about a mile away.
In 1926, Selfridges set up the Selfridge Provincial Stores company, which had expanded over the years to include sixteen provincial stores, but these were sold to the John Lewis Partnership in 1940. The Liverpool-based Lewis's chain of department stores acquired the remaining Oxford Street Shop in 1951, until it was taken over in 1965 by the Sears Group, owned by Charles Clore. Under the Sears group, branches in Ilford and Oxford opened, with the latter remaining Selfridges until 1986, when Sears rebranded it as a Lewis's store. In 1990, Sears Holdings split Selfridges from Lewis's and placed Lewis's in administration a year later. In March 1998, Selfridges acquired its current logo in tandem with the opening of the Manchester Trafford Centre store and Selfridges' demerger from Sears.
In September 1998, Selfridges expanded and opened a department store in the newly-opened Trafford Centre in Greater Manchester. Following its success, Selfridges announced they would open an additional 125,000-square-foot (11,600 m2) store in Exchange Square, Manchester city centre. The Exchange Square store opened in 2002 as Manchester city centre started to return to normal following the 1996 Manchester bombing. A 260,000-square-foot (24,000 m2) store opened in 2003 in Birmingham's Bull Ring.
In 2003, the chain was acquired by Canada's Galen Weston for £598 million and became part of Selfridges Group, which also includes Brown Thomas and Arnotts in Ireland, Holt Renfrew in Canada and de Bijenkorf in the Netherlands. Weston, a retailing expert who is also the owner of major supermarket chains in Canada, has chosen to invest in the renovation of the Oxford Street store – rather than to create new stores in British cities other than Manchester and Birmingham. Simon Forster is the Managing Director of Selfridges, while Anne Pitcher is the Managing Director of Selfridges Group.
In October 2009, Selfridges revived its rooftop entertainment with the opening of "The Restaurant on the Roof". In July 2011, Truvia created an emerald green boating lake (with a waterfall, a boat-up cocktail bar and a forest of Stevia plants). In 2012 the Big Rooftop Tea and Golf Party featured "the highest afternoon tea on Oxford Street" and a nine-hole golf course with "the seven wonders of London" realised in cake as obstacles.
Selfridge stores are known for architectural innovation and excellence, and are tourist destinations in their own right. The original London store was designed by Daniel Burnham, who also created the Marshall Field's main store in his home town of Chicago. Burnham was the leading American department store designer of the time and had works in Boston (Filenes's), New York (Gimbel's, Wanamaker's), and Philadelphia (Wanamaker's, his magnum opus).
The London store was built in phases. The first phase consisted of only the nine-and-a-half bays closest to the Duke Street corner, and is an example of one of the earliest uses of steel cage frame construction for this type of building in London. This circumstance, according to the report of a contemporary London correspondent from the Chicago Tribune, was largely responsible for making possible the eventual widespread use of Chicago’s steel frame cage construction system in the United Kingdom. “Under the pressure of [Mr. Selfridge] and the interests allied with him, the councilors admitted the soundness of American building methods and framed a bill which will be pressed at once in parliament [sic] to permit these methods to be used here.”. A scheme to erect a massive tower above the store was never carried out.
Also involved in the design of the store were American architect Francis Swales, who worked on decorative details, and British architects R. Frank Atkinson and Thomas Smith Tait. The distinctive polychrome sculpture above the Oxford Street entrance is the work of British sculptor Gilbert Bayes.
The Daily Telegraph named Selfridges in London the world's best department store in 2010.
The Trafford store is noted for its use of stone and marble and for the exterior which strikingly resembles the London store. Each of the five floors of the Exchange Square store in central Manchester was designed by a different architect and has its own look and feel. In December 2009, store officials announced that the store will undergo a £40 million renovation to give it a more iconic look that has been associated with Selfridges. It has been announced the store will feature art installations using LED lighting that will be projected to the outside of the building at night.
The Birmingham store, designed by architects Future Systems, is covered in 15,000 spun aluminium discs on a background of Yves Klein Blue. Since it opened in 2003, the Birmingham store has been named every year by industry magazine Retail Week as one of the 100 stores to visit in the world. The building is also included as a desktop background in the Architecture theme in Windows 7.
Selfridges' windows have become synonymous also with the brand, and to a certain degree have become as famous as the company and Oxford Street location itself. Selfridges has a history of bold art initiatives when it comes to the window designs. Selfridge himself likened the act of shopping to the act of attending the theater and encouraged his customers to make this connection as well by covering his show windows with silk curtains before dramatically unveiling the displays on opening day. Just as they do today, the window designs served as the opening act of the entire play of the Selfridge experience and helped capture the public’s attention to transform customers into true shoppers. Later, when the building was undergoing restoration, the scaffolding was shrouded with a giant photograph of stars such as Sir Elton John by Sam Taylor-Wood. The windows consistently attract tourists, designers and fashionistas alike to marvel at the current designs and styling and fashion trends.
Since 2002, the windows have been photographed by London photographer Andrew Meredith and published in magazines such as Vogue, Dwell, Icon, Frame, Creative Review, Hungarian Stylus Magazine, Design Week, Harper's Bazaar, The New York Times, WGSN as well as many worldwide media outlets, including the world wide press, journals, blogs and published books.
The long lasting influence that Harry Selfridge would have on shopping and department stores became immediately clear with Selfridges' opening day. The store’s opening to much fanfare on 15 March 1909 laid the foundation for the success of the entire lifestyle that Selfridge aimed to promote. Even before the unveiling of the window displays, innovative marketing techniques set up the momentous occasion and the store for great success.
Harry Selfridge developed close relationships with the media to ensure that his store and its opening were properly publicized. The opening week ad campaign relied mainly on unpaid promotions in the form of news articles in newspapers, magazines, and journals. As time progressed, Selfridge took the more traditional form of marketing by writing daily columns under the pen name Callisthenes. Overall, however, one of the most effective marketing tools proved to be the opening week cartoons focusing on the grand event. Selfridge enlisted the help of thirty-eight of London’s top illustrators to draw hundreds of full page, half page, and quarter page advertisements for eighteen newspapers. This innovative combination of direct advertisements and newspaper publicities proved to be quite effective at drawing the crowds to the store.
The marketing continued on opening day itself. Touted as “London’s Greatest Store,” Selfridges immediately became a cultural and social phenomenon. From the store's soft lighting to the general absence of price tags to live music from string quartets, every detail of the opening was purposeful to draw people into the entire shopping experience and make each shopper feel unique. At Selfridges, shoppers entered another world in which they became "guests," as the store referred to them, and could purchase unique items that differed from the material goods sold in other stores. The successes of the marketing campaign and the store’s opening day highlight that Selfridges sold an entire lifestyle, not just an impressive array of material products.
ITV and Masterpiece produced a series entitled Mr Selfridge, first airing on ITV beginning in January 2013 (in ten parts), and later on PBS starting on 30 March 2013 (in eight parts). ITV began airing ten additional episodes in January 2014. The fourth series began in 2016 with the first episode airing on 8 January 2016.
The Bull Ring is a major commercial area of central Birmingham. It has been an important feature of Birmingham since the Middle Ages, when its market was first held. Two shopping centres have been built in the area; in the 1960s, and then in 2003; the latter is styled as one word, Bullring.
The site is located on the edge of the sandstone city ridge which results in the steep gradient towards Digbeth. The slope drops approximately 15 metres (49 ft) from New Street to St Martin's Church which is very visible near the church.The current shopping centre was the busiest in the United Kingdom in 2004 with 36.5 million visitors. It houses one of only four Selfridges department stores, the fourth largest Debenhams and Forever 21.Carpe Diem (drink)
Carpe Diem is a range of energy and 'functional' soft beverages distributed in the United Kingdom and other European countries by Red Bull. They were launched by the founder of Red Bull into an upscale and health conscious drinks marketplace, being first stocked by stores such as Selfridges before being distributed to mainstream stores such as Tesco. These drinks are no longer available in Ireland or the UK.Corporation Street Bridge
Corporation Street Bridge is a skyway which crosses Corporation Street in Manchester city centre, Manchester. The bridge replaced the old footbridge, which was damaged beyond repair in the 1996 Manchester bombing. The bridge is shaped in the form of a hyperboloid and links the Marks & Spencer/Selfridges building to the Manchester Arndale.De Bijenkorf
De Bijenkorf (literally, "the beehive") is a chain of high-end department stores in the Netherlands, with its flagship store on Dam Square in Amsterdam. The chain is owned by the Weston family, which also owns Britain's Selfridges, Canada's Holt Renfrew and Ireland's Brown Thomas.Exchange Square, Manchester
Exchange Square is civic square in Manchester, England. The square was created after the IRA 1996 Manchester bombing. This reconstruction included the structural relocation of two pubs to make room for the new Marks & Spencer store.
Today the square is a major shopping area including a branch of Selfridges, New Cathedral Street, the Corn Exchange and an entrance to the Manchester Arndale, one of the most-visited shopping centres in the United Kingdom.
To the north lies the Printworks and Urbis, now home to the National Football Museum. To the west lies Shambles Square (with The Old Wellington Inn) and Manchester Cathedral. To the south is New Cathedral Street and the Royal Exchange.Future Systems
Future Systems was a London-based architectural and design practice, formerly headed by Directors Jan Kaplický and Amanda Levete.
Future Systems was founded by Kaplický and David Nixon after working with Denys Lasdun, Norman Foster, Renzo Piano, and Richard Rogers in 1979. The work of Future Systems can be classified within the British high-tech architects as either bionic architecture or amorphous, organic shapes sometimes referred to as "blobitecture". "Compared to his peers, Kaplicky was the avant-garde incarnate, relentlessly pursuing the new new thing, refusing to settle into some predictable, and comfortable, architectural niche."Galen Weston
Willard Gordon Galen Weston (born October 29, 1940) is a British-Canadian businessman and philanthropist as well as Executive Chairman of George Weston Limited, a leading food processing and distribution company. Weston and his family, with an estimated net worth of $US 13.9 billion, are listed as the second wealthiest in Canada and 147th in the world by Forbes magazine (March 2014).In addition to being one of the country's leading bakers through wholly owned subsidiary Weston Foods, Weston is also an experienced supermarket retailer who maintains controlling interest in Loblaw Companies, Canada's largest food retailer, through a family holding company. Weston is also head of the world's second largest luxury goods retailer as Chairman of Holt Renfrew in Canada and the Selfridges Group, owner of Selfridges in the United Kingdom, Brown Thomas of Ireland, the De Bijenkorf department store chain in the Netherlands, and the recently acquired Ogilvy department store in Montreal. Weston is Chairman of The W. Garfield Weston Foundation, a family-based private charitable trust that has made close to $200 million in donations over the past decade.Harry Gordon Selfridge
Harry Gordon Selfridge, Sr. (11 January 1858 – 8 May 1947) was an American-British retail magnate who founded the London-based department store Selfridges. His 20-year leadership of Selfridges led to his becoming one of the most respected and wealthy retail magnates in the United Kingdom. He was known as the 'Earl of Oxford Street'.Born in Ripon, Wisconsin, Selfridge delivered newspapers and left school at 14 when he found work at a bank in Jackson, Michigan. After a series of jobs, Selfridge found a position at Marshall Field's in Chicago, where he stayed for the next 25 years.
In 1890, he married Rose Buckingham, of the prominent Chicago Buckingham family.
In 1906, following a trip to London, Selfridge invested £400,000 in his own department store in what was then the unfashionable western end of Oxford Street. The new store opened to the public on 15 March 1909, and Selfridge remained chairman until he retired in 1941. In 1947, he died of bronchial pneumonia at age 89.Miss Selfridge
Miss Selfridge is a nationwide UK high street store which began as the young fashion section of Selfridges department store in London in 1966. Miss Selfridge got its name when Charles Clore, the owner of Selfridges at the time, saw a window display in the Bonwit Teller store in New York City which showed "Miss Bonwit" dresses aimed specifically at teenagers. He later launched it throughout his Lewis's & Selfridges stores throughout the UKMr Selfridge
Mr Selfridge is a British period drama television series about Harry Gordon Selfridge and his department store, Selfridge & Co, in London, set from 1908 to 1928. It was co-produced by ITV Studios and Masterpiece/WGBH for broadcast on ITV. The series began broadcasting on ITV on 6 January 2013 and 30 March 2013 on PBS in the United States.New Cathedral Street
New Cathedral Street is a pedestrianised retail street in Manchester city centre, England. It runs between Exchange Square and Exchange Street (off St Mary's Gate, Manchester). The street is home to the Manchester branch of Marks and Spencer and Selfridges (east side), and Harvey Nichols, the largest Ted Baker and Hugo Boss stores outside London, Lacoste, Louis Vuitton, Reiss, Henri Lloyd, Massimo, Zara and Burberry (west side).
The street and buildings that stand today were all built as part of the rebuilding since the 1996 IRA bombing of the city centre. The block of buildings to the west are on the site of the former Victoria Street and Victoria Buildings which were aligned differently.
Cathedral Street is an older street to the east of the cathedral and further to the north.Oxford Street
Oxford Street is a major road in the City of Westminster in the West End of London, running from Tottenham Court Road to Marble Arch via Oxford Circus. It is Europe's busiest shopping street, with around half a million daily visitors, and as of 2012 had approximately 300 shops. It is designated as part of the A40, a major road between London and Fishguard, though it is not signed as such, and traffic is regularly restricted to buses and taxis.
The road was originally part of the Via Trinobantina, a Roman road between Essex and Hampshire via London. It was known as Tyburn Road through the Middle Ages when it was notorious for public hangings of prisoners in Newgate Prison. It became known as Oxford Road and then Oxford Street in the 18th century, and began to change from residential to commercial and retail purposes by the late 19th century, attracting street traders, confidence tricksters and prostitution. The first department stores in Britain opened in the early 20th century, including Selfridges, John Lewis and HMV. Unlike nearby shopping streets such as Bond Street, it has retained an element of downmarket trading alongside more prestigious retail stores. The street suffered heavy bombing during World War II, and several longstanding stores including John Lewis were completely destroyed and rebuilt from scratch.
Despite competition from other shopping centres such as Westfield Stratford City and the Brent Cross Shopping Centre, Oxford Street remains in high demand as a retail location, with several chains hosting their flagship stores on the street, and has a number of listed buildings. The annual switching on of Christmas lights by a celebrity has been a popular event since 1959. As a popular retail area and main thoroughfare for London buses and taxis, Oxford Street has suffered from traffic congestion, a poor safety record and pollution. Various traffic management schemes have been implemented by Transport for London (TfL), including a ban on private vehicles during daytime hours on weekdays and Saturdays, and improved pedestrian crossings.Selfridge Provincial Stores
Selfridge Provincial Stores was a holding company of a group of department stores in the United Kingdom. The company was formed by Selfridge & Co. in 1926 and was active until 1940.Selfridges, Oxford Street
Selfridges is a Grade II listed retail premises on Oxford Street in London. It was designed by Daniel Burnham for Harry Gordon Selfridge, and opened in 1909. Still the headquarters of Selfridge & Co. department stores, with 540,000 square feet (50,000 m2) of selling space, the store is the second largest retail premises in the UK, half as big as the biggest department store in Europe, Harrods. It was named the world's best department store in 2010, and again in 2012.Selfridges, Oxford Street bombing 1975
On the 19 December 1974 the Provisional IRA exploded a car bomb which was parked opposite to Selfridge's department store on Oxford Street in London. The bomb attack was carried out by an IRA active service unit (ASU) known as the Balcombe Street Gang who carried out some 40 attacks in England between October 1974 - December 1975.Oxford Street was targeted in IRA bombings many other times during the Troubles.Selfridges Building, Birmingham
The Selfridges Building is a landmark building in Birmingham, England. The building is part of the Bullring Shopping Centre and houses Selfridges Department Store. The building was completed in 2003 at a cost of £60 million and designed by architecture firm Future Systems. It has a steel framework with sprayed concrete facade. Since its construction, the building has become an iconic architectural landmark and seen as a major contribution to the regeneration of Birmingham. It is included as a desktop background as part of the Architecture theme in Windows 7.Silvertone Records (Selfridges)
Silvertone Records was a short-lived British department store record label, which was one of the house labels of Selfridges in the 1930s.Tangs
TANGS is a department store located on Orchard Road in Singapore, owned by C.K. Tang Limited. The store is regarded as a principal shopping destination in the city, comparable to Bloomingdale's in New York City and Selfridges in London. The company was founded by Tang Choon Keng in 1932.Wooyoungmi
Wooyoungmi (stylized as WOOYOUNGMI) is a menswear clothing brand launched in South Korea by the designer Woo Youngmi in 2002. It is sold through own-brand stores and global retailers. Art and architecture are sources of inspiration for the brand. The brand has become known for tailoring.In 2014, The Korea Herald wrote that “Wooyoungmi has become the most successful Korean independent menswear designer brand.”
Department stores of the United Kingdom