Name: Sir John Barker
Life dates: 1840-1914
Occupation: 1st Baronet, MP, retailer
John Barker was born in Loose, Kent on 6 April 1840, the son of Joseph Barker, a carpenter and brewer. He was educated privately and in 1853, began a three year apprenticeship to a Maidstone draper. He gained further experience in drapery shops in Folkestone and Dover before moving to London in 1858 to join Spencer, Turner & Boldero, furnishers and drapers, of Marylebone. After a few years in London, Barker was offered a position at William Whiteley's new emporium in Westbourne Grove. He proved a talented salesman and was promoted to departmental manager. Barker left Whiteley in late 1870 to open a small linen drapery shop in Kensington, in partnership with James Whitehead, a wealthy city merchant. The shop traded as John Barker & Co. Barker's plan was the creation of a vast store stelling a huge range of goods and he therefore took every opportunity to expand his business through the acquisition of additional shops and premises. In 1894, the business was floated as a public company, John Barker & Co Ltd.
Between 1906 and 1910, Barker was Liberal MP for Penrhyn and Falmouth and was awarded a baronetcy in 1908. He died in December 1914.
Moss, Michael and Turton, Alison, A Legend of Retailing: House of Fraser, London 1989
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