Company: John Barker & Co Ltd

Registration number: 41452

Company name: John Barker & Co Ltd
Dates in business: 1894-1988

Type of business: department store retailers

Type of company: Limited liability company

  • High Street, Kensington, London, England
  • Cromwell Crescent , Kensington, London, England
  • Ball Street , Kensington, London, England
  • Young Street , Kensington, London, England
  • King Street , Kensington, London, England
  • Derry Street, Kensington, London, England
  • Richmond, England
  • Liverpool, England
  • Birmingham, England
  • Manchester, England
  • Terminus Road , Eastbourne, England

Management of company

On the incorporation of the company in 1894, John Barker was chairman. The directors included Barker's brother, Francis, and H.H. Johnstone, both former partners in the company, Barker's son-in-law, Tresham Gilbey of Bishop's Stortford, and J.G. Barnes, former manager of the Kensington branch of Parr's Banking Company. The business was divided into five sections: finance, purchases, audit and salaries, stationery and advertising, and horse vans and deliveries, with a committee of directors appointed to each.

John Barker died in 1914 and was succeeded as chairman by Sydney Skinner, who had joined the firm in 1889 and had been appointed a director in 1905.

Sydney Skinner died in 1941 and was succeeded as chairman by Trevor Bowen, who had joined the company in 1914 and had been appointed a director in 1925.

After the acquisition of the company by House of Fraser Ltd in 1957, Bowen remained honorary president until he died in 1965, but was replaced as chairman by Hugh Fraser.

Company history

John Barker & Co Ltd was incorporated in June 1894, to continue the business of John Barker & Co. In the same year, the company bought the premises and stock of Seaman & Little, a shop which had previously divided the company's stores in half. The company now owned thirty-three shops, including sixteen fronting Kensington High Street. The store itself comprised sixty-four departments, selling goods of all kinds including clothes, books, stationery, fancy goods, furniture, carpets, china and glass, groceries, wine and spirits and cigars. The store also had departments for drug-dispensing, building, plumbing and refreshment catering. By 1895, the company owned every property on the High Street between King Street and Young Street except numbers 73 and 85. In 1895, new jewellery, watch and bicycle departments were opened and depository facilities were acquired in Cromwell Crescent. In 1897, the company rebuilt its Ball Street property to house office staff. In 1898, it acquired 48 , 52, 54 and 56 Kensington High Street and, in 1900, it also acquired 73 Kensington High Street. In about 1900, work began on rebuilding 42-60 Kensington High Street as a large warehouse with flats above. Later, the depository facilities in Cromwell Crescent were also reconstructed. In 1907, the company acquired Ponting Brothers, a large drapery store on Kensington High Street, which was continued as a separate concern.

In November 1912, the east section of Barkers' main block was devastated by fire. Temporary premises were found on the opposite side of the street and reconstruction was begun in 1913 by the company's own building department. The company also suffered during the First World War. By 1915, trade was diminishing leaving the business over-stocked and over-borrowed. Unprofitable departments were closed, wages were reduced and the delivery service was curtailed.

In 1920, after the end of the war, the policy of expansion was resumed with the acquisition of Derry & Toms, a large drapery store between Barkers and Pontings. Like Pontings, Derry & Toms was continued as a separate concern. At around the same time, Barkers' store on the south of the High Street was reorganised with a new entrance, staircase and lift. Intensive advertising and new lines were also introduced. In 1924, piano and gramophone shops were opened in Liverpool, Birmingham and Manchester but these were not a success and were closed within two years. In 1925, Zeeta Co Ltd, a chain of high-class catering shops, was acquired. Between 1922 and 1930, the area of property owned by the company doubled with acquisitions on both sides of Kensington High Street. In 1926, a large furniture store, known as the Ladymere building, was built at 26-40 Kensington High Street. The company had occupied temporary premises here since the fire in 1912 and had taken a long lease in 1919.

In the 1930s, work began on a phased redevelopment of Barkers and Derry & Toms, setting Barkers back by 30 feet to reduce the acute congestion in Kensington High Street. The first stage involved the closure of Ball Street, which was built over between 1927 and 1929, and the erection of new administrative offices and household showrooms. Meanwhile, Pontings was developed southwards along Wrights Lane. Architect Bernard George was commissioned to produce designs for both stores, and work on Derry & Toms began immediately. The new store was opened in March 1933. Work was also begun on Barkers but was only two thirds complete when war was declared in 1939.

Despite some bomb damage to Derry & Toms and staff shortages, profits were maintained throughout the war. After the war, the company's policy of expansion was resumed. In 1947, it acquired Gosling & Sons Ltd of Richmond, a small drapery business, and, in 1951, explored the possibility of acquiring Selfridges, of Oxford Street. In 1953, it opened a new store with thirty departments in Terminus Road, Eastbourne. In April 1955, work was resumed on the redevelopment of the Barker building in Kensington. The new store was opened in September 1958.

John Barker & Co Ltd was acquired by House of Fraser Ltd in August 1957. The business was gradually streamlined. Between 1959 and 1962, the Zeeta stores were gradually disposed of along with surplus property on the north side of Kensington High Street and in Young Street.

In 1965, John Barker (Construction and Development) Ltd was formed to continue the company's building and decorating department.

In 1968, Gosling & Sons Ltd ceased to trade and the store was demolished prior to redevelopment.

In February 1971, Pontings was closed and the site sold. The entire Pontings stock was installed in the lower ground floor of the Barkers building where it became known as Pontings Bargain Basement. In the same year, Derry & Toms was sold, although the store was not closed until January 1973. In late 1972, work began on the refurbishment of Barkers in order to capture the trade of the closed stores.

In 1975, House of Fraser acquired Army & Navy Stores Ltd and Barkers became the flagship of a new Army & Navy division. In 1976, the food hall was revamped and a new china and glass department and restaurant opened. In 1977, automatic lifts were installed. and the Pontings basement closed. Further modernisation work was undertaken in 1978 with the construction of a new main entrance on the corner of Derry Street and the opening of a new fashion area on the first floor and electrical and hardware departments on the lower ground floor. In 1982, the number of sales floors was reduced from seven to four and architects were commissioned to refurbish and develop Barkers as a compact store alongside a new arcade of nine boutiques, office space and garden terraces. The new department store was completed by November 1986 and the shopping arcade opened in 1987.

The company was wound up voluntarily in 1988.

Records held for John Barker & Co Ltd:

FRAS 942
Title: Memoranda and articles of association
Date: 1894-1930
FRAS 937
Title: Minutes of general meetings of shareholders (No 1)
Date: 1894-1959
FRAS 938
Title: Minutes of meetings of board of directors and general meetings of shareholders
Date: 1894-1988
FRAS 932
Title: Annual report and accounts
Date: 1896-1979
FRAS 933
Title: Reports of proceedings of annual general meetings of shareholders
Date: 1898-1956
FRAS 934
Title: Register of directors and managers
Date: 1901-1968
FRAS 944
Title: Register of preference shareholders (A-C)
Date: 1922-1968
FRAS 962
Title: Register of mortgages and charges
Date: 1923-1959
FRAS 936
Title: Registers of seals
Date: 1929-1981
FRAS 963
Title: Register of insurances
Date: c 1936-1958
FRAS 935
Title: Combined register
Date: 1957-1987
FRAS 964
Title: Register of deeds
Date: 1894-1929
FRAS 945
Title: Lists of trademarks and patents
Date: c 1901-1989
FRAS 943
Title: Accountants' itemised bill for work relating to conversion of John Barker & Co to limited liability company
Date: September 1894
FRAS 956
Title: Half yearly departmental profits
Date: 1894-1957
FRAS 1514
Title: Debenture ledger
Date: 1909-1969
FRAS 1515
Title: City wholesale department journal
Date: July 1945-December 1962
FRAS 1513
Title: Rents ledger
Date: 1948-1967
FRAS 1516
Title: General ledgers
Date: 1948-1973
FRAS 1521
Title: Ladymere branch journal
Date: October 1952-November 1959
FRAS 1520
Title: Ladymere branch general ledger
Date: 1952-1961
FRAS 1518
Title: Insurance funds journal
Date: 1953-1962
FRAS 1523
Title: Eastbourne branch journals
Date: 1953-1971
FRAS 1522
Title: Eastbourne branch general ledgers
Date: 1953-1975
FRAS 1524
Title: City wholesale department general ledger
Date: 1956-1970
FRAS 1519
Title: Kingston branch general ledger
Date: 1959-1964
FRAS 1517
Title: Journal
Date: February 1973-May 1975
FRAS 965
Title: Article on mechanical equipment in the stores of John Barker & Co Ltd
Date: early 1920s
FRAS 1503
Title: Barkers wrapping paper
Date: c 1894
FRAS 988
Title: Parcel label
Date: 1923
FRAS 987
Title: Customer order form for goods from household departments
Date: c 1930s
FRAS 1527
Title: Headed notepaper
Date: c 1930s
FRAS 954
Title: Staff guides
Date: c 1967-1968
FRAS 985
Title: Customer coupon book
Date: >c 1960s
FRAS 986
Title: Sales receipt
Date: December 1963
FRAS 948
Title: Sales promotion guides for staff
Date: 1970-1973
FRAS 939
Title: Leaflets advertising free delivery of goods to any railway station in the UK
Date: 1905
FRAS 1500
Title: Product catalogues
Date: 1925-1958
FRAS 999
Title: Scrapbooks of newspaper advertisements
Date: 1925-1982
FRAS 995
Title: Newspaper advertisements
Date: c 1930s-1970
FRAS 1526
Title: Photocopy of general information leaflet for customers about Barkers store, High Street, Kensington, London
Date: 1976
FRAS 1506
Title: Information pack on promotional events organised by John Barker & Co Ltd to celebrate the Queen's silver jubilee
Date: 1977
FRAS 1507
Title: Information packs on 'Discover Barkers' promotions
Date: 1978-1979
FRAS 983
Title: Newspaper article on John Barker & Co Ltd
Date: c 1900
FRAS 1502
Title: Photograph albums
Date: 1924-1961
FRAS 990
Title: Visitors' book
Date: 1926-1934
FRAS 955
Title: Publications on the history of John Barker & Co Ltd
Date: 1930, 1944
FRAS 1505
Title: Newspaper article on history of John Barker & Co Ltd
Date: July 1985
FRAS 949
Title: Staff engagement books
Date: 1906-1945
FRAS 953
Title: Staff pensions books
Date: 1906-1976
FRAS 997
Title: Menu for reunion dinner of Barker advertising staff, 1919-1925
Date: November 1938
FRAS 951
Title: Agendas for meetings of trustees of John Barker pension scheme
Date: 1944-1958
FRAS 952
Title: Minutes of meetings of trustees of John Barker pension scheme
Date: 1944-1966
FRAS 947
Title: The Kenbar staff magazine
Date: 1950-1957
FRAS 950
Title: Rules and conditions of employment
Date: February 1972
FRAS 971
Title: Correspondence relating to tenancy of Fairlawn House, 159 Hammersmith Road, London
Date: 1898-1904
FRAS 940
Title: Plans for valuation of properties
Date: October 1901
FRAS 972
Title: Lists of deeds relating to Clarence Place Chapel, Kensington, London
Date: 1904-1922
FRAS 973
Title: Underlease of 149 High Street, Kensington, London
Date: January 1905
FRAS 966
Title: Architect's account of acquisition of site and erection of new building on High Street, Kensington, London 1899-1905
Date: 1905
FRAS 970
Title: Papers relating to 40 Redcliffe Square, South Kensington, London
Date: 1905-1918
FRAS 974
Title: Lease of 23 Young Street, Kensington, London
Date: May 1917
FRAS 967
Title: Inventory and valuation of properties of Pontings
Date: August 1918
FRAS 969
Title: Inventory and valuation of properties of Derry & Toms
Date: November 1921
FRAS 959
Title: Inventories and valuations of properties of John Barker & Co Ltd
Date: November 1921
FRAS 968
Title: Inventory and valuation of properties of Pontings
Date: January 1923
FRAS 960
Title: Valuation of properties of John Barker & Co Ltd and associated companies
Date: March 1928
FRAS 996
Title: Correspondence and papers relating to ceremony to mark commencement of demolition work for widening of High Street, Kensington, London
Date: 1954-1955
FRAS 991
Title: Copies of documents placed in a casket in the foundations of the new building of John Barker & Co Ltd
Date: December 1956
FRAS 961
Title: Valuation of properties of John Barker & Co Ltd and subsidiary companies
Date: 1965
FRAS 980
Title: Consultation document regarding the development of Kensington High Street, London
Date: July 1972
FRAS 714/1
Title: Publication entitled Getting to Know The House of Fraser
Date: 1959
Contains notes on the history of the company and images of a display of furs and the Kensington and Eastbourne store exteriors.
FRAS 613
Title: Papers relating to liquidation of dormant subsidiaries of Army & Navy Stores Ltd
Date: 1978-1980
Includes balance sheets of John Barker & Co Ltd, 1981.

Related People and Companies:

Name: Barker, Sir John, 1840-1914, 1st Baronet, MP, retailer
Dates of connection: 1894-1914
Connection type: John Barker was the first chairman of the company.
Name: Fraser, Hugh, 1903-1966, 1st Baron Fraser of Allander
Dates of connection: 1957
Connection type: Hugh Fraser became chairman of the company in 1957.
Name: Fraser, Sir Hugh, 1936-1987, 2nd Baronet
Dates of connection: 1966
Connection type: Sir Hugh Fraser became chairman of the company in 1966.
Corporation name: John Barker & Co
Dates of connection: 1894
Connection type: John Barker & Co was incorporated as John Barker & Co Ltd in 1894.
Corporation name: Ponting Brothers
Dates of connection: 1907
Connection type: John Barker & Co Ltd acquired Ponting Brothers in 1907.
Corporation name: Barker's Fixed Management Shares Association Ltd
Dates of connection: 1917
Connection type: Barker's Fixed Management Shares Association Ltd was incorporated in 1917 to augment the salaries of the employees of John Barker & Co Ltd and its subsidiaries.
Corporation name: Derry & Toms
Dates of connection: 1920
Connection type: John Barker & Co Ltd acquired Derry & Toms in 1920.
Corporation name: Zeeta Co Ltd
Dates of connection: 1925
Connection type: John Barker & Co Ltd acquired Zeeta Co Ltd in 1925.
Corporation name: Gosling & Sons Ltd
Dates of connection: 1947
Connection type: John Barker & Co Ltd acquired Gosling & Sons Ltd in 1947.
Corporation name: Barker's Management Shares Trust
Dates of connection: 1950
Connection type: Barker's Management Shares Trust was formed in 1950 to augment the salaries of the employees of John Barker & Co Ltd and its subsidiaries.
Corporation name: House of Fraser Ltd
Dates of connection: 1957
Connection type: House of Fraser Ltd acquired John Barker & Co Ltd in 1957.
Corporation name: John Barker (Construction and Development) Ltd
Dates of connection: 1965
Connection type: John Barker (Construction and Development) Ltd was established in 1965 to take over the work of John Barker & Co Ltd's building and decorating department.

Access points: Department stores - Retail trade

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