Company name: Brown Muff & Co Ltd
Dates in business: 1905-1977
Type of business: Department store
Type of company: Private limited company 1905
Type of company: Public limited company 1936Locations:
In 1905, Brown Muff & Co Ltd was incorporated as a private limited company, with Henry, Charles and Frederic Muff and George and Richard Walker as shareholders. The company had started in the 1810s as Mrs Brown's, a clothes broker and circulating library based at 11 Market Street, Bradford. By 1828, Elizabeth Brown had brought her son, Henry, into a partnership, Brown & Son. On her retiral, Henry managed the business until 1845 when his brother-in-law, Thomas Muff, joined him as partner in Brown & Muff. By the 1880s, the company, then trading as Brown Muff & Co was one of the largest drapery stores in Bradford, with an extensive retails and wholesale trade.
In the first half of the twentieth century, the company expanded, with new departments and properties. The company was affected by the depression in the early 1930s, Bradford's traditional industries being severley affected. However, by the late 1930s, with the company moving away from it's high-class image for a more populist approach, it emerged from the depression with considerable optimism. The policy of attracting a wide customer base continued throughout the war, and into the 1950s.
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Brown Muff & Co continued to look for development opportunities. In 1960, the company enjoyed it's best year, with both record profits and turnover. The following years saw Brown Muff & Co Ltd stores in Skipton and Bingley, with a move into Doncaster in 1975.
The success of the company brought the interest of House of Fraser which was looking to extend its network of stores. By May 1975, House of Fraser had acquired a 27.2 per cent holding of the company's ordinary shares. In early 1977, House of Fraser was successful in it's bid for full control of the company. Following the acquisition, Brown Muff & Co Ltd stores were rebranded as Rackhams.
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