Company: Jolly & Son Ltd

Registration number:

Company name: Jolly & Son Ltd
Dates in business: 1903-1968

Type of business: Department store retailers

Type of company: Private limited liability company 1903

Type of company: Public limited liability company 1923

  • 13-14 Milsom Street, Bath, Somerset, England
  • 26 High Street, Margate, Kent, England
  • Whiteladies Road, Bristol, England
  • Whiteladies Road, Cardiff, Wales

Company history

James Jolly started trading in the 1810s when he opened a linen drapery shop at Deal. With the help of his son the business quickly expanded and by 1852 Jolly & Son had stores in Deal, Margate, Bath and Bristol. Selling a range of products from silk mercery and lace to toys and cutlery, Jollys focus was on &Economy, fashion and variety'

In 1903 Jolly and his son Paul sold Jolly& Son to a private limited company, Jolly & Son, Bath, Ltd, whilst retaining the majority of the shares. William Jolly had moved to Hampstead in 1899 but remained nominal head of the company until his death in January 1904 whilst executive control was assumed by Paul Jolly.

By 1905 the showrooms had grown too small for the volume of trade conducted and work began on a major refurbishment designed to increase sales space and improve the costume, millinery and outfitting rooms.Rebuilding work continued throughout 1906 when sales amounted to £83,050. The growth of the store continued unabated and in early 1907 the adjoining premises of of Messrs Jackman at 9 Milsom Street were acquired. In 1912 the firm also purchased the business premises and stock of T. Knight & Son, adding carpet, furniture, auctioneer and estate agency departments. In addition, a circulating library and cold rooms for fur storage were launched.

During the First World War acute trading difficulties were experienced and the high-class costume and furnishing departments were particularly badly affected. Attempts were made to boost sales by the organisation of special train excursions and the store's reputation was enhanced by Queen Mary&s regular visits whilst at Badminton. Sales increased dramatically in 1919 and by 1920 the company had purchased the entire Milsom Street premises outright.

In January 1922, upon the death of Herbert Jolly, the Bristol store, which had been hived off for family reasons in 1889, was acquired at a cost of £80,000. The purchase price was paid in two parts, £50,000 cash and £30,000 as a short term loan. A year later, in February 1923, the company went public, as Jolly & Son Ltd, in order to raise finance for the Bristol purchase. Paul Jolly remained chairman of the new board comprised Russell Jolly, a Birmingham solicitor, and three former departmental heads, as managing directors. Meanwhile a small furniture shop had been opened in Charles Street, Cardiff. In 1924 sales of the three stores amounted to over £264,000. Trading conditions became difficult during the depressed years of the mid-1920s and early 1930s, although small improvements continued to be made at both Bath and Bristol. In 1928, for example, tea and rest rooms were opened at Bristol and in 1937 stuctural alterations were made at Bath to allowthe regrouping of the drapery sections. Most of the departments at Bath were, however, still located only on the ground floor.

In 1940 the Bristol store was completely destroyed by enemy action and smaller, temporary premises were found in Whiteladies Road where the store was eventually relocated on a permanent basis. Later in 1961, the Bristol site was greatly enlarged by the acquisition of an adjoining three-storey building. In 1968 Jolly & Son (Holdings) Ltd was formed as a holding company for the group with a capital of £150,000. In 1963 purpose-built auction rooms were opened in New King Street and a local transport company, Bath Parcel Services Ltd, was acquired. In early 1964 the group also purchased The Commercial Garage in order to service the store's growing vehicular fleet. In May 1965a new restaurant was opened at the Bath store. In 1970 E. Dingle & Co Ltd of Plymouth acquired Jolly & Son (Holdings) Ltd and was itself taken over by House of Fraser in 1971.

Records held for Jolly & Son Ltd:

FRAS 1185
Title: Store brochures
Date: 1960-1981
FRAS 1190
Title: Catalogues
Date: 1850s-1920s
FRAS 1186
Title: Articles of Association
Date: 1968
FRAS 1168
Title: Mounted display of lace
Date: nd

Related People and Companies:

Corporation name: Jolly & Son
Dates of connection: 1903
Connection type: In 1903 Jolly and his son, Paul, sold Jolly & Son to a private limited company, Jolly & Son, Bath, Ltd, whilst retaining the majority of the shares.
Corporation name: Jolly & Son (Holdings) Ltd
Dates of connection: 1968
Connection type: In 1968 Jolly & Son (Holdings) Ltd was formed as a holding company for the group, Jolly & Sons Ltd, with a capital of £150,000.
Corporation name: E Dingle & Co
Dates of connection: 1970
Connection type: In 1970 E. Dingle & Co Ltd of Plymouth acquired Jolly & Son (Holdings) Ltd.
Corporation name: House of Fraser Ltd
Dates of connection: 1971
Connection type: In 1971 E. Dingle & Co Ltd which had acquired Jolly & Son (Holding) Ltd in 1968 was taken over by House of Fraser.

Access points: Department stores - Retail trade

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