Company: Benzie & Miller Ltd

Company name: Benzie & Miller Ltd
Dates in business: 1920-c1980s

Type of business: department store retailers

Type of company: Private limited liability company

  • 27-29 Mid Street, Fraserburgh, Scotland
  • Banff, Scotland
  • 3/17 Union Street, Inverness, Scotland
  • 1 Drummond Street, Inverness, Scotland
  • 33-49 Baron Taylor Street, Inverness, Scotland
  • Peterhead, Scotland

Company history

The foundations of Benzie & Miller Ltd lie in the late nineteenth century in north east Scotland. In 1897 William Benzie, a young businessman, took over the Colosseum Warehouse drapery business on 32 Mid Street, Fraserburgh, from Mitchell & Co. The business was extended in 1896 when a new store was built across the street. In 1898 a power plant was installed providing electricity and ensuring that the store was well lit. This impressed the locals as it was the first of its kind in the area. The store increased in size and popularity over the years and in 1920 Mr Benzie started to think about establishing a department store.

James Miller, a personal friend of Mr Benzie, trained as a cabinetmaker and ,under Mr Benzie’s recommendation, he established a cabinetmaker and furnishing business in Fraserburgh. His business was largely successful but when called up to serve in France in World War I he decided to sell his stock and machinery and abandon the business. After the war he gradually began restoring it and it once again grew in popularity.

After much discussion Mr Benzie and Mr Millar, along with Mr Benzie's manager John Halkett, decided to combine forces and set up a department store named Benzie & Miller Ltd in 1920. Mr Henderson, a shoemaker who owned a store nearby, also became one of the directors of the company as he had agreed for his store, Messers Goodlad and Coutts, to be rebuilt and redesigned to assist the extension of Mr Benzie's existing property. Around this time Benzie & Miller Ltd also bought over a new bootmaking firm called Abercromby Ltd. This business merged with Messrs Goodlad and Coutts to form the footwear department in the Benzie & Miller store.

Other departments, such as ironmongery, hardware, china, and glassware were soon established in the store as well as a small tearoom. Over the years the menswear department and fashion salon were also introduced and other departments were extended and improved. The store also underwent a number of alterations over the years. Mr Benzie died in 1931 and Mr Miller in 1934. Their sons, Alexander Benzie and John B Miller, also became directors of the company.

Benzie & Miller Ltd stores were also established in Banff, Inverness and Peterhead, and these were often known simply as Benzies. Benzie & Miller Ltd was bought over by the House of Fraser in 1957. The stores operated as usual until they closed down one by one, Fraserburgh in 1968, Peterhead in 1977/1978 and Banff in the 1980s.

Records held for Benzie & Miller Ltd:

FRAS 333
Title: Photographs of Benzie & Miller department stores
Date: c1950s
FRAS 334
Title: Through the Years, with Benzie & Miller Ltd, Fraserburgh.,1887-1937
Date: 1937
FRAS 335
Title: Private ledger no 1, indexed
Date: 1945-1958
FRAS 1400
Title: Accounts ledger
Date: 1958-1968
FRAS 714/2
Title: Publication entitled The House of Fraser
Date: 1964
Contains images of store exteriors.

Related People and Companies:

Corporation name: House of Fraser Ltd
Dates of connection: -1957
Connection type: Benzie & Miller Ltd was acquired by House of Fraser Ltd in 1957.

Access points: Department stores - Retail trade - Cabinetmakers - Furnishers - Drapers

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