House of Fraser is a British department store group with over 60 stores across the UK and Ireland. It was established in Glasgow, Scotland in 1849 as Arthur and Fraser. By 1891, it was known as Fraser & Sons. The company grew steadily during the early 20th century, but after the Second World War, a large number of acquisitions transformed the company into a national chain. Between 1936 and 1985 over seventy companies, not including their subsidiaries, were acquired.
In 1948, the company was first listed on the London Stock Exchange and eventually was included in the FTSE Index before the company was acquired by a consortium of investors including Baugur and Don McCarthy in 2006.
On 2 September 2014, Don McCarthy, retiring Executive Chairman of House of Fraser, announced the completion of the sale of 100% of the preferred ordinary shares and B ordinary shares, and approximately 89% of the A ordinary shares and preference shares of Highland Group Holdings Ltd, to Nanjing Xinjiekou Department Store Co, a leading chain of Chinese department stores, for an enterprise value of approximately £480 million.
The company’s acquisitions have included numerous household names, some of which are no longer used as part of the company’s long-term strategy of re-branding its stores under the House of Fraser name. Over the years House of Fraser has purchased chains or stores such as the Army & Navy Stores, Barkers of Kensington, Beatties, Dickins & Jones, Jenners, Howells, Kendals, Rackhams, Binns and Harrods of Knightsbridge (which is now owned privately). D H Evans Oxford Street store in London was rebranded as House of Fraser in 2001 and became the chain’s flagship store. House of Fraser’s largest store is located in Birmingham.
The group has been subject to many attempted takeovers by other companies, such as Boots and Lonrho, but it was the acquisition by Baugur Group in 2006 that brought the ownership of House of Fraser to the public’s attention, and the resulting changes in its ownership, including shareholding by Lloyds Banking Group.