Our Story: 140 Years of Fenwick
Fenwick is known for providing the finest selection of luxury from around the world across fashion, beauty and lifestyle, curated into a sophisticated shopping space and bestowed with in-store events, treatment rooms, bespoke services and popular restaurants. Loyal to our brilliant and British heritage, Fenwick is proudly the largest family-owned group of department stores in the United Kingdom.
JJ's son Fred joined the business in 1890 and was sent to Paris to train in the art of retail. Here, he embraced the revolutionary concept of department store, perfectly exemplified in Le Bon Marché. When JJ and Fred introduced this set up to their Newcastle store, they started what would become a family-owned retail empire. With originality, relentless hard work and the highest standards of excellence, we know JJ would be proud of the nine department stores that respectfully bear his name today.
John James Fenwick is born in Richmond, North Yorkshire.
On 23 March, John James Fenwick opens the doors for the first time to his new store at 5 Northumberland Street – much to the delight of the well-dressed women of Newcastle. Offering a carefully curated selection of silk goods, dresses, fabric and trimmings, its high quality, luxurious goods were quickly sought after.
As his business thrives, John James Fenwick decides to expand, taking over the lease of a larger property at number 39 Northumberland Street (a former doctor’s house). A year later, in 1885, he extends further, incorporating number 37.
Fenwick opens at New Bond Street, in London’s most luxurious shopping district. The first fashion store on the street, Fenwick quickly becomes a must-visit for affluent, stylish women eager to discover the latest styles in elegant environs.
Fenwick hosts its first ever Christmas Bazaar, welcoming customers to explore and browse in store at their leisure, with no obligation to buy – anticipating the forthcoming trend of more relaxed and recreational retail.
Fenwick Newcastle unveils its new neo-classical frontage and celebrates with a lavish opening day.
Typically forward-thinking, Fenwick is the first establishment in the UK to advertise on public transport, and to use rich illustrations in its advertisements.
Looking to grow the business, John Fenwick, with brothers Christopher Fenwick and Peter Fenwick, acquires the Joseph Johnson store in Leicester. This is subsequently rebranded as Fenwick of Leicester, heralding a new era of expansion.
A beloved tradition is born as Fenwick Newcastle debuts its first animated Christmas window display. The now-yearly lavish and imaginative Christmas installations have since attracted millions of visitors and are a highlight of the city’s events calendar. The very first theme was Camberwick Green, bringing to life a favourite children’s television show at the time.
Fenwick is present at another landmark retail moment under John Fenwick, as the UK’s first large, enclosed shopping centre, Brent Cross, opens, with Fenwick as its flagship store.
Fenwick opens in York’s Coppergate Centre, with James Fenwick as Managing Director.
The expansion of the Fenwick business sees it acquire Ricemans in Canterbury, which is later rebuilt and branded as Fenwick, with Hugo Fenwick as Managing Director.
Under the chairmanship of Mark Fenwick, great-grandson of founder JJ Fenwick, Fenwick significantly expands with its acquisition of the Bentalls Group. All but Bracknell and Kingston upon Thames are sold, with these two stores brought into the Fenwick fold, under Managing Director Adam Fenwick.
The Daily Muse launches online, delivering fashion news, product announcements and lifestyle advice to its dedicated readership.
Fenwick launches Fenwick Food, the re-launch of its own-label ventures, followed by Fenwick at Home, its inaugural homeware range, in 2021.
Fenwick launches a year of celebrations to mark 140 illustrious years, and to look towards a future that is every bit as bold and brilliant as what has gone before.
Our Stores Throughout The Ages
Take a look back at Fenwick throughout the ages. From our very first Newcastle store, when women wore corsets, men wore top hats and deliveries were made by horse and cart, through to our most recent openings, we have a rich history that has shaped who we are today.
Fenwick and Fashion
Since it first opened its doors in 1882, Fenwick has been at the forefront of luxury fashion, offering its clientele an unsurpassed selection of brands and garments for every wardrobe requirement. Although fashions have changed radically since the days of our first store, our commitment to finding the perfect dress, jacket, trousers, shoes or bag never has. We’ve proudly dressed our clientele for many years gone by, and we look forward to dressing them for many years to come.
We hope every experience at Fenwick is one to be treasured and remembered. Here, we recount some of our favourite Fenwick memories from our 140 year history...