Company: Dickins & Jones Ltd


Registration number: 66575

Company name: Dickins & Jones Ltd
Dates in business: 1900-2005

Type of business: department store retailers

Type of company: Limited liability company 1900

  • Regent Street, London, England
  • Argyll Street, London, England
  • Richmond, England
  • Milton Keynes, England

Company history

In 1900 Dickins & Jones Ltd incorporated as a limited liability company, with a share capital of GBP600,000. The firm had a long established history, tracing back to the linen drapery of Thomas Dickins and William Smith which had premises at 54 Oxford Street, London in 1803. In 1835, the company moved into their impressive premises in Regent Street, which were to remain their flagship store until its closure in 2006. The imposing facade, built by Samuel Baxter, featured four large columns and the golden lion brought from the Oxford Street premises. By this time, the company had built up extensive connections based on the sale of quality goods at reasonable prices. In 1856, the death of Thomas Dickins, senior, allowed the creation of Dickins & Jones with Charles John Dickins, Henry Francis Dickins and John Prichard Jones as partners.

By 1900, the company was enjoying considerable success. The Regent Street store had grown, incorporating premises in Argyll Street which served as a warehouse. The 1890s had seen the growth of the store's traditional linen lines to include the sale of lace, dresses, furs, mantles, wedding trousseaux, mourning apparel, underclothing, gloves, umbrellas and a huge variety of oriental and other giftware. An afternoon tea room had been opened in 1895. The staff numbered around 200, most of whom lived-in at the Argyll Street lodgings. With a remarkable reputation for the quality of its goods and services, the store supplied royalty and the aristocracy. Appointments to the Princess of Wales, the King of Spain, the Queen of the Netherlands and King Louis Philippe of France were all held. In addition to its store in Regent Street, the firm also operated one of the largest-mail order businesses in London, circulating catalogues and patterns post-free on application. Its growing postal department, which offered free delivery to central and suburban London was based in premises in Argyll Street.

With the incorporation in 1900 the vendors, Charles John Dickins, Henry Francis Dickins, John Prichard Jones, and their sons, Charles Thomas Dickins, Frederick Albert Dickins and Vernon William Dickins, all remained directors and retained a high proportion of the issued shares. The 1900s witnessed a new kind of growth as Dickins & Jones Ltd began to take over other successful London firms including Lewis & Allenby, silk mercers, Conduit Street; Balls & Flint, baby linen retailers, Regent Street; Redmayne, tailors, Bond Street; and George Hitchcock, silk mercers, St Paul's Churchyard. This spate of acquisitions, masterminded by John Prichard Jones, store manager, extended the activities of the company and introduced, in particular, a new emphasis on silk. By the 1910s it had become apparent that the Dickins family was not interested in carrying on the business and Harrod's Stores Ltd, encouraged by John Prichard Jones, acquired a controlling interest in Dickins & Jones Ltd in July 1914. Richard Burbidge, managing director of Harrods and an astute businessman, assumed control although the store continued to trade as a separate entity. The store was brought completely into the ownership of Harrods Ltd in June 1968.

Within weeks of the Harrod's take over Britain entered the 1914-1918 World War and the Government commandeered all the store's delivery horses and huge numbers of staff joined up, making it difficult to maintain standards of service. However, the store continued to invest and in 1919, the entire island site on Regent Street and Argyll Street was finally secured. Between 1920 and 1922 the old building was pulled down and work began on a new store designed by Henry Tanner. The cost of the redevelopment was enormous at a time when trade was difficult and the value of stocks was collapsing. In 1923, GBP1 million of mortgage debenture stock was issued, on the security of the company's property, in order to repay outstanding loans. The new store included a library, tea rooms and restaurant and comprised a total sales area of 167,000 square feet. Later, hairdressing and theatre ticket departments were opened together with a whole floor devoted to inexpensive fashion. The building was not, however, completed until 1939 when the Argyll Street extension was opened.

The outbreak of the 1939-1945 World War brought difficult trading conditions for the store. Many of the male staff were called up and, whilst the store escaped major bomb damage, public air-raid shelters and a canteen were opened in the sub-basement and the third floor was requisitioned by the post office for telecommunication purposes. The post-war years witnessed gradual modernisation of the store. Heavy wooden fittings were replaced by glass counters, and in 1952, after the introduction of new advertising agents, the 'Lady in the Rose' trade mark was adopted. In 1947, the Lincoln Room was created as an extension to the restaurant, and a 'Younger Londoner' department was opened to attract new customers. In 1953, the store employed around 1,000 staff.

The acquisition of Harrods Ltd by House of Fraser Ltd in 1959, had limited direct impact upon the store. It remained a predominantly ladies' fashion store until 1969 when menswear, china and glass departments were opened. In 1968, the restaurant was refurbished and renamed the 'Rose Restaurant'. The following year saw the opening of the first branch store opened in Richmond, Surrey, England. The purpose-built, five-storey premises were one third of the size of the Regent Street building. In 1975, the two basements were redeveloped to convert the lower ground area into a sales floor for household goods. The basement opened in 1976 and, at the same time, the ground floor was completely refurbished. In 1981, a second branch store, comprising 70,000 square feet on two floors, opened in a brand-new shopping centre in Milton Keynes, England. The 1980s saw efforts to create a younger image for the Regent Street store, with a complete refurbishment undertaken between 1986 and 1988.

In 2005, House of Fraser plc announced the closure of the Regent Street store. Trading ceased at the store in January 2006, with the branches at Epsom and Richmond contiuing to trade under the Dickins & Jones name. In 2007, the decision was taken to rebrand these stores as House of Fraser, with the Dickins & Jones name falling out of use.

Records held for Dickins & Jones Ltd:

FRAS 1102
Title: Home furnishing catalogues
Date: 1893-c.1980s
FRAS 1103
Title: Childrens' catalogues
Date: c.1940s-1960s
FRAS 359
Title: Christmas goods catalogues
Date: 1894-1950
FRAS 1101
Title: Fashion catalogues
Date: 1890s-1980s
FRAS 1106
Title: Adverts in pubications
Date: 1835-1997
FRAS 338
Title: Minutes of meetings of board of directors
Date: 1900-1968
FRAS 339
Title: Minutes of meetings of annual general meetings of shareholders
Date: 1923-1968
FRAS 340
Title: Balance sheet books
Date: 1901-1954
FRAS 341
Title: Property account ledger
Date: 1904-1922
FRAS 342
Title: Private ledgers
Date: 1909-1954
FRAS 343
Title: Private expenses ledgers
Date: 1950-1954
FRAS 344
Title: Private cash books
Date: 1912-1954
FRAS 345
Title: Private journals
Date: 1917-1958
FRAS 346
Title: Cash book, B account
Date: 1914-1928
FRAS 347
Title: Cash book relating to re-building of main block
Date: 1919-1924
FRAS 348
Title: Private sales journals
Date: 1947-1975
FRAS 349
Title: Salary books, managers and buyers
Date: 1914-1946
FRAS 350
Title: General staff register
Date: 1939-1954
FRAS 351
Title: Annual report and accounts
Date: 1903-1968
FRAS 352
Title: Prospectuses
Date: 1900-1923
FRAS 353
Title: Scrapbook of presscuttings relating to Dickins & Jones' finances.
Date: 1921-1945
FRAS 354
Title: Scrapbook of financial reports relating to Dickins & Jones finances
Date: 1934-1953
FRAS 355
Title: Career guides
Date: 1960s-c.1975
FRAS 356
Title: Staff guide books
Date: c.1950-1981
FRAS 357
Title: Promotional material relating to opening of Richmond store
Date: 1969
FRAS 358
Title: Staff photographs
Date: 1960s-1980s
FRAS 1096
Title: Press releases
Date: 1951
FRAS 1097
Title: Appointment of managing directors
Date: 1917-1958
FRAS 1098
Title: Stationary samples
Date: 1965-1989
FRAS 1099
Title: Letter from Office of Commissioners of Crown Land
Date: 1939
FRAS 1100
Title: C.H. Bromhead Lectures
Date: 1963
FRAS 1104
Title: Store photographs
Date: c.1920s-1980s
FRAS 1105
Title: In store events and social events photographs
Date: 1894-1950
FRAS 1150
Title: Memorandum and Articles of Association
Date: 1900
FRAS 1151
Title: Letters from T.C. Summerhays
Date: 1901-1902
FRAS 1152
Title: Deed relating to Dickins & Jones' cumulative preference shareholders' reserve fund
Date: 1901
FRAS 1153
Title: Trust deeds for securing debenture stock
Date: 1923-1939
FRAS 1155
Title: Correspondence and deeds relating to preference shareholders' reserve fund
Date: 1901-1923
FRAS 1157
Title: Notices to shareholders regards changes to share and stock holding options
Date: 1932-1967
FRAS 1158
Title: Registers of loose sheets
Date: 1932-1967
FRAS 1159
Title: Register of directors' holdings and interests
Date: 1948-1954
FRAS 1160
Title: Agreements with Keith Prowse & Co. Ltd
Date: 1925-1937
FRAS 1161
Title: Valuation of properties
Date: 1923-1939
FRAS 1162
Title: Legal file
Date: 1901-1971
FRAS 1163
Title: Store plans for Richmond store
Date: 1969
FRAS 1107
Title: Advertising expenses
Date: 1969-1984
FRAS 1124
Title: Departmental results
Date: 1939-1948
FRAS 1125
Title: Capital expenditure ledger
Date: 1948-1971
FRAS 1126
Title: Expense registers
Date: 1964-1970
FRAS 1127
Title: Comparative figures
Date: 1901-1971
FRAS 1135
Title: Mortgage register
Date: 1921-1948
FRAS 1136
Title: Insurance registers
Date: 1927-c.1950s
FRAS 1137
Title: Register of payments of leases
Date: 1923-1947
FRAS 1139
Title: General Ledger
Date: 1954-1965
FRAS 1140
Title: Salary book
Date: 1948-1956
FRAS 1141
Title: Annual return 1934
Date: 1934
FRAS 360
Title: Article relating to children's party costumes
Date: 1913
FRAS 361
Title: 150 Years in Regent Street
Date: 1985
FRAS 1087
Title: Store system manual
Date: 1953-c.1960s
FRAS 1088
Title: Restaurant menus
Date: 1960s-1970s
FRAS 1089
Title: Leaflet for Dickins & Jones budget account
Date: c.1950
FRAS 1090
Title: Invitations and promotional cards for new collections and previews
Date: 1904-1979
FRAS 1091
Title: Staff parties
Date: 1956-1979
FRAS 1092
Title: Terms of employment
Date: 1963-1965
FRAS 1093
Title: Dickins & Jones policy
Date: 1963-c.1980s
FRAS 1094
Title: Christmas card
Date: c.1950s
FRAS 1095
Title: Mr Haynes' reminiscences
Date: 1948-1949

Related People and Companies:

Corporation name: Dickins, Smith & Stevens
Dates of connection: 1856
Connection type: On the death of Thomas Dickins senior, Charles John and Henry Francis, his two younger sons, took over Dickins, Smith & Stevens and created Dickins & Jones by assuming John Prichard Jones as a partner.
Corporation name: Dickins & Jones
Dates of connection: 1900
Connection type: In 1900 Dickins & Jones Ltd incorporated as a limited liability company, with a share capital of GBP600,000.
Corporation name: Harrods Ltd
Dates of connection: 1914
Connection type: Harrods Ltd acquired a controlling interest in Dickins & Jones Ltd in 1914. It was brought completely into the ownership of Harrods Ltd in June 1968.

Access points: Department stores - Retail trade - Drapers

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