SHOP ONLINE - NEXT DAY DELIVERY £5 AND FREE RETURNS

history

In 1882 an ambitious young shop assistant, John James Fenwick, began a retail empire when he took over a doctor’s house in a residential area of Newcastle upon Tyne. It cost him £181 and 4 shillings to convert 5 Northumberland Street house into a shop – a tidy sum in those days.

JJ, as he was known, described himself as a Mantle Maker and Furrier. Together with two assistants he sold mantles, silk goods, dresses, fabrics and trimmings. Sales were healthy. The business grew. Within three years he had purchased 37/38 Northumberland Street and when Fred Fenwick, his eldest son, joined the business in 1890, number 40 was acquired. Today the flagship Fenwick store remains on this exact same site.

Determined to expand, the Fenwick family looked beyond the north east. In 1891 J.J Fenwick bought 63 New Bond Street, which is still part of the London site. Like the Newcastle store it specialised in exclusive tailoring for ladies, and over the next decade the two shops gained a reputation as exciting places to visit, full of the newest ideas and styles.

Fenwick’s masterstroke, however, was to embrace a new retailing concept emerging in Paris – the department store. Fred Fenwick went to Paris to train in the art of retail and was particularly inspired by what he saw at Le Bon Marché, generally regarded as the first ever department store.

Until this point all retail was based on the concept of specialist merchants – drapers, ironmongers, butchers and bakers – so the idea of combining different kinds of goods in clearly defined departments, all under the same roof, was groundbreaking. The business never looked back.

THE FENWICK TIMELINE:

1846

John James Fenwick is born in Richmond, North Yorkshire.

1882

JJ Fenwick, Mantle Maker and Furrier, opens at 5 Northumberland Street, Newcastle

1885

37/38 Northumberland Street is purchased.

1890

40 Northumberland Street is acquired.

1891

Fenwick opens a second store at 63 New Bond Street in London.

1962

The Leicester family business of Joseph Johnson is acquired.

1976

Brent Cross Shopping Centre opens, the first of its kind, with Fenwick as the flagship department store.

1980

Fenwick Windsor opens. The Bond Street store doubles in size.

1984

Fenwick York opens.

1986

Ricemans, a Canterbury department store, is acquired.

1992

Fenwick Tunbridge Wells opens.

2001

Fenwick acquires the Bentalls group of stores and retains the branches in Kingston upon Thames and Bracknell.

2003

Ricemans in Canterbury is demolished, and a new Fenwick store opened nearby.

2008

Fenwick acquires the Colchester store, Williams & Griffin.