company_name = Lewis's
company_type = Retail
foundation = 1856
key_people = David Thompson
Sir Philip Green
Rex CohenLord Woolton
industry = Retail
Vergo Retail Ltd
company_slogan = "The Friends Of The People"
Lewis's is a large
department storein Liverpoolcity centre. Lewis's Ltd was a department store group operating in the United Kingdomfrom 1856 to the 1990s. Only the original Liverpool store continues to trade under the Lewis's name and is owned and operated by Vergo Retail Ltd. The company should not be confused with the still existing and totally separate department store chain John Lewis.
The first Lewis's was opened in 1856 in Liverpool,
Englandby David Lewis, as a men's and boy's clothing store, mostly manufacturing his own stock. In 1864 Lewis's branched out into women's clothing. In the 1870s the store expanded and added departments, including shoes in 1874 and tobacco in 1879.
The first Lewis's outside of Liverpool opened in nearby
Manchesterin 1877, and another, by personal suggestion from Joseph Chamberlainto his new Corporation Street in Birminghamin 1885. A fourth store opened in Sheffieldin 1884 but failed to be profitable and was closed in 1888.
Louis Cohen took over the business after Lewis's death, and oversaw a period of consolidation for the business.
After Louis Cohen's death, control passed to Harold and Rex Cohen, who took the company public in 1924. New stores were once again opened, in
Glasgow(1929), Leeds(1932), Hanley in Stoke-on-Trent(1934) and Leicesterin 1936. Lewis's were generally the largest department stores in their respective localities.
In 1951 the Lewis's group purchased the famous London department store
Selfridgesand later became part of the Sears Group headed by Charles Clore.
A branch was opened on
Blackpoolpromenade, next to Blackpool Tower, in 1964. The building had a distinctive 1960s design, with a turquoise tiled exterior. It closed in 1993, building work was undertaken to remove some of the upper floors and the redeveloped site houses a Mecca bingohall, with the ground floor space being subsequently occupied by Woolworths Groupand a variety of small unit retailers.
The company is now defunct. It went into administration in 1991 as a result of problems such as the then recession and failing to compete effectively. This resulted in Liverpool competitor
Owen Owenbuying up several branches of Lewis's (but retaining the Lewis's brand name on those purchased stores); Sir Philip Green revived the selling of toys on a large scale, by launching the brand Kids HQin 4 Lewis's Owen Owen Stores, including the Liverpool and Manchester stores. The Leicester branch traded independently for a short while, following a management buyout, as 'Lewis's of Leicester', before finally closing. Other branches including the Birmingham store closed down.
The only store continuing to trade as Lewis's is the Liverpool outlet, following the closure of the Manchester branch in 2001; the latter has since become a branch of
Primark. This followed the sale of other branches of Lewis's from Owen Owen to other operators such as Debenhamsand Alldersduring the 1990s.
Although the Liverpool store is still trading, it went into liquidation on February 28 2007 [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/merseyside/6405391.stm] .
On March 23 2007 the Liverpool store was sold as a going concern to Vergo Retail Ltd, enabling the store to continue to trade as Lewis's [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/merseyside/6681529.stm] .
* Above the main entrance to the Liverpool flagship store is a statue of a nude man by Sir
Jacob Epstein. Its official title is ‘Liverpool Resurgent’ but is nicknamed locally "Dickie Lewis". It is a well-known local meeting place and was immortalised in the 1962 anthemic song "In My Liverpool Home" by Peter McGovern::"We speak with an accent exceedingly rare,":"Meet under a statue exceedingly bare"
Paul McCartneyonce worked as a temp at the Liverpoolbranch of Lewis's
* In an episode of the sitcom
Red Dwarf, Lister, played by Liverpool actor Craig Charles, refers to a girl who was "pretty enough to work on the perfume counter in Lewis's."
* Lewis's Manchester branch, features in a piece of artwork of Piccadilly Gardens, by L S Lowry.
Birmingham- closed 13 July 1991, currently on the ground floor a pub, The Square Peg, with offices above
Bristol- became John Lewis 1981-1998, then Bentalls1998-2001 and House of Fraser2002-2008, latterly becoming Primarkwhen House of Fraser moves to new development
Ellesmere Port- became a branch of Asda until 2006 when the site was converted into an indoor market, Asda having moved to larger premises nearby.
Glasgow- currently a branch of Debenhamswith ground floor units split to house various retailers
*Hanley - currently a branch of
Leeds- latterly Allders, closed 2005, currently in the process of being split into separate retail units including Sainsbury'sand TK Maxxwith offices above
Leicester- rebuilt in 1990s with only the tower remaining, occupied by various retailers including Marks & Spencer
Manchester- closed 2001, currently occupied by Primark
Oxford Street, London, Selfridges
West Thurrock, Lakeside - became Bentalls, then Alldersand currently Primark
* Briggs, Asa "The Friends of The People, The cenetary History of LEWIS'S" 1956
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