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Timeline: A history of House of Fraser

This week reports have surfaced that House of Fraser is looking to return to the stock market. Here Drapers looks back over the department store’s history since it launched in 1849.

1849 – House of Fraser, then known as Arthur and Fraser, is founded by Hugh Fraser and James Arthur with a shop on the corner of Argyle Street and Buchanan Street in Glasgow, while a wholesale business is established in the adjoining premises

1865 – Fraser and Arthur’s partnership is disbanded, leaving Fraser in control of the retail business and Arthur in control of wholesale. Alexander McLaren joins the retail business and the name became Fraser & McLaren.

1900 – The business changes name again under Hugh Fraser II, to become Fraser & Sons

1927 – Hugh Fraser III becomes chairman following his father’s death. During his chairmanship he opens new departments, introduces a restaurant and searches for potential acquisitions

1936 – Fraser III buys Argyle Street’s Arnott & Co and Robert Simpson & Sons  

1948 – The business, renamed House Of Fraser, first appears on the London Stock Exchange

1957-9 – House of Fraser acquires John Barker & Co, Harrods and Dickins & Jones

1970s – Throughout the decade the House of Fraser group continued to buy out more than 50 more companies, including T. Baird & Sons Ltd of Scotland, Switzer & Co. Ltd, Dublin, Ireland and E. Dingle & Co. Ltd, Chiesmans Ltd, Hide & Co and the Army & Navy Stores.

1973 –HoF considers a merger with Boots, but the move is rejected by the government a year later.

1983 – The Frasercard is introduced.

1985 – House of Fraser is bought by the Al Fayed family for £615m.

1988 – A five year business agenda is announced, in which small branches are to be replaced by larger stores.

1994 – House of Fraser is listed on the London Stock Exchange.

1997-8 – John Coleman is appointed chief executive, later introducing own brands Linea and Platman. Many stores, including the Sheffield, Sunderland and Leeds branches, are closed and sold off during the time, with a resulting loss of approximately 1000 jobs.

1999- 2000 – A joint venture with the British Land Company, BL Fraser, was established to purchase 15 House of Fraser stores, that would continue to be run by House of Fraser

2003 – A bid from Tom Hunter to take over the group is rejected. Meanwhile, a significant amount of House of Fraser branches in Scotland, including stores in Aberdeen, Inverness and Perth, are sold or closed.

2007 – HoF  launches online store.

2008 -  Stores opened in Belfast, High Wycombe, Bristol and Westfield London.  

June 2009 – Chairman Don McCarthy refutes reports that HoF are planning on selling any of the 62 stores, also denying rumours that rival Debenhams was considering the acquisition of some, or all, of the company’s department stores.  

February 2010 –HoF in talks with lenders to renegotiate banking covenants to fund a three year growth plan.  

May 2010 – Former Bauger chief executive Jón Ásgeir Jóhannesson resigns as a director of HoF after a £1.4bn lawsuit was filed against him for allegedly ‘looting’ Icelandic band Glitner in the weeks leading up to its collapse in 2008. Jóhannesson denied the claims.

November 2012 - Redundancies in the womanswear team were the first major changes made under new executive director Allan Winstanley.  

December 2012 – Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley rumoured to be in discussions with HoF management over an acquisition. It is thought he later walks away from the talks.

May 2013 – Reports emerge that the Qatari Investment Fund, which now owns Harrods, is eyeing HoF. These discussions also founder.

August 2013- HoF poised to relist on the stock exchange.

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