company_name = Selfridges & Co
company_type = Private
foundation = 1909
Harry Gordon Selfridge
industry = Retail
homepage = http://www.selfridges.com/
Selfridges is a chain of
department stores in the United Kingdom. It was founded by American entrepreneur Harry Gordon Selfridge. The flagship store in London's Oxford Streetis the second largest shop in the UK (after Harrods) and was opened on 15 March 1909. [ [http://www.selfridges.com/index.cfm?page=1167 Selfridges website] ] As of 2007, there are four stores located in, London (opened 1909), Manchester- Trafford(opened 1998), Manchester- Exchange Square(opened in 2002) and Birmingham- Bullring(opened 2003).
H. Gordon Selfridge was born in 1858 in
Ripon, Wisconsin, and in 1879 joined Field, Leiter and Company (later to become Marshall Field& Company), where he worked under the Chicago retailer of the same name. He worked his way up through the firm, married into the prominent Buckingham family, and amassed the fortune with which he built his new London store.
Selfridge's innovative marketing led to his success. He tried to make shopping a fun adventure instead of a chore. He put merchandise on display so customers could examine it, put 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 — techniques that have been adopted by modern department stores the world over.
Either Selfridge or
Marshall Fieldis popularly held to have coined the phrase "the customer is always right", [ [http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/106700.html The customer is always right ] ] and he did use it regularly in his extensive advertising. The phrase, however, predated Selfridge by centuries; he may have assimilated it while purchasing Persian rugsin Mumbai.Fact|date=July 2007
He attracted shoppers with educational and scientific exhibits. He was himself interested in education and science, and believed that the displays would introduce potential new customers to Selfridges, generating both immediate and long-term sales.
In 1909, after the first cross-Channel flight,
Louis Blériot's monoplanewas exhibited at Selfridges, where it was seen by 12,000 people. The first public demonstration of televisionwas by John Logie Bairdfrom the first floor of Selfridges from 1-27 April 1925.
seismographwas set up on the Selfridge store’s third floor in 1932, attached to one of the building's main stanchions, unaffected by traffic or shoppers. It recorded the Belgian earthquake of 11 June 1938which was also felt in London. At the outbreak of war, the seismograph was moved from its original site near the Post Officeto another part of the store. In 1947, the seismograph was given to the British Museum.
The provincial stores were sold to the
John Lewis Partnershipin the 1940s. The remaining Oxford Streetstore was acquired in 1951 by the Liverpool-based Lewis'schain of department stores, which was in turn taken over in 1965 by the Sears group of Charles Clore. [ [http://www.selfridges.com/index.cfm?page=1044 Selfridges & Co ] ] In March 1998 Selfridges had acquired a new logo at use to the present which came in tandem with the opening of the Manchester Trafford Centrestore and Selfridges demerger from Sears.
Between 1998 and 2003, the store supplemented its convert|540000|sqft|m2|-3|sing=on [ [http://www.businessweek.com/innovate/content/dec2005/id20051213_744054.htm Hot Shops: Retail Revamps ] ] London flagship store with a convert|150000|sqft|m2|-3|sing=on store at the
Trafford Centrein Manchester; Because of its success in Manchester a convert|125000|sqft|m2|-2|sing=on store in Exchange Square, Manchester was also opened. A convert|260000|sqft|m2|-3|sing=on [http://www.propertymall.com/press/article/1417 Land Securities - Retail - Birmingham, Bull Ring ] ] store in the BirminghamBull Ring shopping complex.
In 2003, the chain was acquired by Canada's
Galen Westonfor £598 million. Weston, a retailing expert who is the owner of Canada's major supermarket chains Loblawsand No Frills among others, has chosen to invest in renovation of the Oxford Streetstore, rather than to carry out planned expansion to Leeds, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Bristol, and Glasgow, despite Selfridges owning a site in the latter city. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/3220779.stm BBC News] ] The Chief Executive is Irish retailer, Paul Kelly. Kelly has worked for the Weston organisation since the mid-eighties.
Selfridge stores are known for architectural excellence. Their London store was designed by
Daniel Burnham, who also crafted Marshall Field'smain store in his home town of Chicago. The London store was built in phases, the first phase consisting only of the nine-and-a-half bays closest to the Duke Street corner. [ [http://viewfinder.english-heritage.org.uk/search/reference.asp?index=1&main_query=&theme=&period=&county=&district=&place_name=department%20store&imageUID=76227 English Heritage: Selfridge's Department Store, Oxford Street, London.] ] A scheme to erect a massive tower above the store was never carried out. [http://www.ngca.co.uk/imagelib/selfridges%2072.jpg] Also involved in the design of the store were the American architect Francis Swales, who worked on decorative details, and the British architect Frank Atkinson. [Morrison, Kathryn A. "English Shops & Shopping: An Architectural History". Yale 2003. ISBN 0-300-10219-4] The Trafford store is noted for its modern staircase and marble exterior. Each floor of the Exchange Square store were designed by different architects giving each floor its own unique look. The convert|260000|sqft|m2|-3|sing=on Birmingham store, designed by architects Future Systems, is covered in 15,000 spun aluminiumdiscs. The stores are also distinctive for their yellow carrier bags - available in a selection of sizes.
* Honeycombe, Gordon. "Selfridges, Seventy-Five Years: The Story of the Store 1909-84." London, 1984
* [http://www.selfridges.co.uk/ Selfridges website]
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