The JD Williams story began in 1859 - when Manchester entrepreneur James David Williams first started work running three mobile shops. In 1875, he founded his own company - imaginatively titled JD Williams. In 1882, he found a way of getting his wares into the eager hands of his customers more quickly - by becoming the first person to use the Post Office's new Parcel Post service.
In 1921, the JD Williams business became a private company. Forty successful years later, all of the JD Williams family shares were sold to a subsidiary of the Alliance Brothers. (The Alliance heritage continues to this day, with two Alliance Brothers on the board of our parent company - the N Brown Group.)
Over the next three decades, we bought several businesses, and in 1990 we launched two catalogue titles to capture the 30 - 45 age range - Fashion World and Candid. Our target market until then had always been 50+ ladies, but this first move into younger markets was to pay dividends.
In 1994, we launched another "young title" - Classic Combination - as a direct result of a huge survey into the shape of the modern woman. A year later, we bought menswear business Sander and Kay, and in 1996, Sartor, adding ladies over 60 to our growing range of customers we still love to serve. 1999 saw us launch what was to become a jewel in our crown - Simply Be, providing a range of very fashionable clothing in larger sizes for younger women.
Since the turn of the millennium we have expanded our household and electrical product ranges, and our offerings in lingerie, nightwear and swimwear. We launched Simply Yours, and acquired House of Bath, Gray & Osbourn, and most recently the high street retail chain High & Mighty.
We've also invested heavily in our working environments, and in 2002 we opened Martin House - a state of the art 1500 seat contact centre next to the MEN Arena. Then in 2004, we moved from our long-established Head Office base at Dale Street, to Griffin House, a modern office environment in the heart of Manchester's Northern Quarter.