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Fashion retailer Debenhams celebrates 200th anniversary

December 23, 2013 (United Kingdom)

A model jumped out of a giant Birthday cake on Oxford Street to celebrate Debenhams’ 200 anniversary.

The model was wearing a gold sequin dress by Julien Macdonald from the retailer’s bestselling 200 year collection.

Retailer Debenhams is officially 200 years old on 25 December. This marks the date that in 1813, William Debenham bought a share in the drapers store at 44 Wigmore Street in London.


1813 - William Debenham invested in the drapers store on Wigmore Street which then became Clarke & Debenham. The first time the Debenhams name appeared on the British High Street.

1818 - An exact replica of the Wigmore Street store was opened in Cheltenham - the first store outside London.

1851 - Clement Freebody invested in the firm renaming it Debenham & Freebody. Many acquisitions of retail, wholesale and manufacturing businesses were undertaken in the remainder of the 19th century and offices opened in South Africa, Australia, Canada and China.

1905 - Debenhams LTD was incorporated.

1919 - The business merged with Marshall and Snellgrove.

1920 - Harvey Nichols was purchased.

1928 - The involvement of the Debenham family ended and the business became public.

1950 - Debenhams was the largest department store group in the UK.

1976 - Browns of Chester was acquired.

1977 - All stores were rebranded ‘Debenhams’ bar Browns of Chester.

1985 – 1998 - Debenhams was part of the Burton Group.

1993 - Designers at Debenhams was introduced, setting the benchmark for retail collaborations.

1997 - The first international franchise store was opened in Bahrain.

2003 - Following the demerger with the Burton group Debenhams was listed on the stock exchange until 2003 when it was acquired by Baroness Retail LTD.

2006 - Debenhams returned to the London Stock exchange in May.

2013 - Today Debenhams has 240 stores in 28 countries stretching from Russia to Jakarta. Delivering to 66 countries worldwide Debenhams has an ever-changing multi-channel offer designed to specifically meet the needs of today’s consumer.

A £26m refurbishment of the flagship Oxford Street store and new state-of-the-art head offices in Regent’s Place set the stage of further positioning Debenhams as the leading international multi-channel brand.

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