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From Drapery Business to Retail Icon | The Storied History of House of Fraser

Step back in time and uncover the fascinating journey of House of Fraser, from its humble beginnings as a small drapery business to becoming one of the most iconic department store chains in the UK. Join us as we delve into the rich history, remarkable transformations, and enduring legacy of this beloved retail institution. Get ready to be captivated by tales of innovation, expansion, and timeless elegance as we explore the evolution of House of Fraser through the ages.

Origins of House of Fraser

House of Fraser traces its roots back to 1849 when Hugh Fraser and James Arthur opened a small drapery shop in Glasgow, Scotland. Originally known as Arthur and Fraser, the store quickly gained a reputation for offering high-quality fabrics and exceptional customer service. Over the years, the business flourished, expanding its product offerings and establishing a loyal customer base. In 1941, the company adopted the name House of Fraser, paying homage to its founders and signaling its evolution into a household name in the retail industry.

Expansion and Diversification

As House of Fraser continued to grow, it embraced a strategy of expansion and diversification, acquiring a number of rival businesses and diversifying its product range to cater to a wider audience. In 1953, the company acquired Harrods, the iconic department store in London, cementing its status as a major player in the UK retail market. Over the years, House of Fraser expanded its presence across the country, opening new stores in key cities and towns and acquiring several well-known brands, including Jenners, Rackhams, and Army & Navy.

Innovation and Adaptation

Throughout its history, House of Fraser has been at the forefront of innovation and adaptation, embracing new technologies and trends to stay ahead of the curve in the ever-changing retail landscape. In the 20th century, the company pioneered the concept of the department store, offering customers a wide range of products under one roof and revolutionizing the shopping experience. In more recent years, House of Fraser has embraced e-commerce and digital marketing, launching an online store and investing in omnichannel strategies to meet the evolving needs of modern consumers.

Challenges and Revival

Despite its storied history and enduring popularity, House of Fraser has faced its share of challenges in recent years, including increased competition from online retailers and changing consumer preferences. In 2018, the company entered administration amid financial difficulties, leading to the closure of several stores and uncertainty about its future. However, House of Fraser was subsequently acquired by the Sports Direct Group, providing a lifeline for the beleaguered retailer and paving the way for its revival.

Legacy and Continued Success

Today, House of Fraser continues to build on its legacy as one of the UK's most beloved and iconic retail brands. With a renewed focus on customer experience, product innovation, and digital transformation, the company is poised for continued success in the 21st century. From its humble beginnings as a small drapery business to its status as a leading department store chain, House of Fraser remains a testament to the power of perseverance, innovation, and adaptation in the face of adversity.


As House of Fraser celebrates its rich history and looks to the future, it remains a symbol of resilience and reinvention in the retail industry. From its origins as a small drapery shop in Glasgow to its status as a household name across the UK, the company has undergone remarkable transformations and weathered numerous challenges over the years. With a renewed focus on innovation, customer experience, and digital transformation, House of Fraser is poised to continue its legacy as a beloved retail icon for generations to come.