Company: James Howell & Co Ltd

Registration number:

Company name: James Howell & Co Ltd
Dates in business: 1909-1972

Type of business: department store retailers

Type of company: Public limited company

  • St. Mary Street, Cardiff, Wales
  • Wharton Street, Cardiff, Wales
  • Trinity Street, Cardiff, Wales

Company history

With the death of James Howell in 1909, the ownership of James Howell & Co was to be divided amongst his eleven children. In order to achieve this the company was turned into a private limited company, James Howell & Co Ltd, in December 1909. Thomas Francis Howell, James Howell's eldest son, who was a barrister in London, became chairman of the company, with John Hugh, Frederick William and James Howell assuming active management in Cardiff.

James Howell's children continued the expansion of the store, with a grocery and provisions department and a motor showroom being added by 1913. Whislt the 1914-1918 World War put a stop to planned developments, the store's profits increased steadily. In November 1920, the company went public with a share capital of GBP500,000. Thomas Francis Howell remained chairman and John Hugh Howell and William Frederick Howell became directors.

In 1924, the Wharton Street arcade was opened, linking the Wharton Street premises with the main store and, in 1931, a new four storey building was opened on the corner of Wharton Street and St Mary Street. During the years of depression and war in the 1930s and 1940s, trade was slow due to price regulations and rationing. The 1950s saw both an improvement in trade and the introduction of a new management team with Alfred Thorpe as chairman and managing director.

Once again, the store was extensively modernised and in 1955 a motor division, Howell's Garage & Commercial Vehicles Ltd (later renamed to Howell's Garages (Cardiff) Ltd) commenced business acquiring several Austin dealers. In 1959, a branch store of Reynolds & Co of Newport, Wales, which was situated next to Howells was acquired and incorporated into the main premises.

In October 1961, the controlling interest in James Howell & Co Ltd was acquired by J J Allan Ltd, department store retailers, Bournemouth, England. However, this shareholding was resold in 1962, and the company was acquired by the Hodge Group in March 1963. In April 1972, the department store division was separated from the motors division and sold to House of Fraser Ltd, department store retailers, Glasgow, Scotland. The store joined the Dingles Division within the Fraser group and continued trading as Howells at 14-18 St Mary Street, Cardiff, as part of House of Fraser plc in 2008.

Records held for James Howell & Co Ltd:

FRAS 1043
Title: Minutes of general meetings of shareholders
Date: 1910-1969
FRAS 1044
Title: Minutes of meetings of board of directors
Date: 1958-1963
FRAS 1045
Title: Private ledgers
Date: 1910-1952
FRAS 1046
Title: Directors' reports and accounts
Date: 1948-1971
FRAS 1047
Title: Balance sheets
Date: 1897-1932
FRAS 1048
Title: Shareholder dividend notices
Date: 1925-1928
FRAS 1049
Title: Stock sheets
Date: 1919
FRAS 1050
Title: Memorandum and articles of association
Date: 1909
FRAS 1051
Title: Annual returns
Date: 1920
FRAS 1052
Title: Store architectural plans
Date: 1927
FRAS 1053
Title: Legal records
Date: 1929-1952
FRAS 1054
Title: Staff rules
Date: c1960s
FRAS 1055
Title: Staff club membership card
Date: 1932
FRAS 1056
Title: File relating to clothes rationing
Date: 1941-1942
FRAS 1057
Title: File relating to Cardiff Warship Week
Date: 1942
FRAS 1058
Title: Customer attitudes survey report
Date: 1972
FRAS 1060
Title: Advertisements
Date: c1870-1959
FRAS 1061
Title: Company histories
Date: 1925-1985
FRAS 1062
Title: Photographs
Date: 1898-c1970s
FRAS 1063
Title: File relating to capitalisation of reserves
Date: 1918

Related People and Companies:

Corporation name: James Howell & Co
Dates of connection: 1909
Connection type: James Howell & Co was incorporated as James Howell & Co Ltd in 1909.
Corporation name: House of Fraser Ltd
Dates of connection: 1972
Connection type: James Howell & Co Ltd was acquired by House of Fraser Ltd in 1972.

Access points: Department stores - Retail trade - Motor trade

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