Company: Stewart & McDonald

Company name: Stewart & McDonald
Dates in business: 1826-1900

Type of business: general drapers and warehousemen

Type of company: Partnership

  • Buchanan Street, Glasgow, Scotland
  • Argyle Street, Glasgow, Scotland
  • Mitchell Street, Glasgow, Scotland
  • Union Street, Glasgow, Scotland
  • Dunlop Street, Glasgow, Scotland
  • Leeds, England
  • Strabane, Northern Ireland
  • Rutherglen Road, Glasgow, Scotland
  • , Glasgow, Scotland
  • London, England
  • Edinburgh, Scotland
  • Liverpool, England
  • Rochdale, England
  • Birmingham, England
  • Belfast, Northern Ireland
  • Dublin, Ireland
  • Newcastle upon Tyne, England
  • Preston, England
  • Hull, England
  • Montreal, Canada
  • Toronto, Canada
  • Melbourne, Australia
  • Sydney, Australia
  • Dunedin, New Zealand
  • Port Elizabeth, South Africa

Management of company

The founding partners were Robertson Buchanan Stewart of Rothesay and John MacDonald, a tailor from the Vale of Leven. In 1859, the founders' sons, Ninian Bannatyne Stewart and Alexander McDonald, were assumed as partners. After John McDonald's death, in about 1860, Robertson Stewart's eldest son, Alexander Bannatyne Stewart, joined the firm. Robertson Stewart died in 1871 and, following Ninian's retirement in 1874, Alexander Stewart became the senior partner and the former cashier, Archibald Crombie, also became a partner. Alexander Stewart died in 1880 and was succeeded as a partner by the founder's nephew and grandson John R Stewart and later, in 1882, by Robert Keddie, manager of several of the principal departments.

Each department had its own manager and buyer. By 1889, the company employed five hundred staff in the warehouse and about seventy commercial travellers.

The first Hugh Fraser, later of Arthur & Fraser, drapers, of Glasgow, was a lace buyer at Stewart & McDonald and rose to be a manager in 1849.

Company history

Stewart & McDonald opened a small wholesale drapery warehouse in 1826. The original premises consisted of a room in a rented tenement on the first floor of 5 Buchanan Street, Glasgow. By the late 1830s, they were supplying retailers from Glasgow and surrounding districts with drapery of every description. By 1847, the company had acquired premises at 152 Argyle Street and 4 Mitchell Street. From 1860, the departments were greatly extended, both in Buchanan Street and Argyle Street and along the east side of Mitchell Street. In 1866, an Italian style retail warehouse was erected north of the original site at 21 Buchanan Street. In the late 1860s, the company also acquired a block on the west side of Mitchell Street where a shirt manufactory was established. Later, a packing area was installed in Union Street, connected to the main building by a subway. In the 1880s, the Buchanan Street frontage was improved and supply factories were established in Dunlop Street, Glasgow for ready-made shirts, costumes and mantles, in Leeds for ready-made clothing and in Strabane, Northern Ireland for shirts, collars and ladies' underclothing. The Dunlop Street factory subsequently moved to Rutherglen Road, Glasgow. By 1889, the company had become a huge business with thirty-three wholesale drapery departments and a thriving retail business. It specialised in dress materials and ready-made clothes. In 1892, the sales area in Buchanan Street was extended by the excavation of a lower ground floor. By this time, the company had branch establishments in London, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Rochdale, Birmingham, Belfast, Dublin, Newcastle upon Tyne, Leeds, Preston, Hull, Montreal, Toronto, Melbourne, Sydney, Dunedin and Port Elizabeth. In 1898, plans were laid for rebuilding the southern part of the warehouse fronting Argyle Street and the corner of Buchanan Street. The new building, designed by the architect Horatio Bromhead, was to be set back in line with the rest of Buchanan Street in order to ease congestion. It was completed in 1903.

In 1900, in order to furnish capital for further expansion, the company was registered as a limited liability company, Stewart & McDonald Ltd.

Related People and Companies:

Name: Fraser, Hugh, 1815-1873, retailer
Dates of connection: mid 1840s-1849
Connection type: Hugh Fraser was a lace buyer and subsequently a manager at Stewart & McDonald.
Corporation name: Stewart & McDonald Ltd
Dates of connection: 1900
Connection type: Stewart & McDonald was registered as Stewart & McDonald Ltd in 1900.

Access points: Drapers - Retail trade - Wholesale trade

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