Infobox Company
company_name = Lewis's
company_type = Retail
genre = Department Store
foundation = 1856
founder = David Lewis
location_city = Liverpool
location_country = England
location =
origins =
key_people = David Thompson
Sir Philip Green
David Lewis
Louis Cohen
Rex CohenLord Woolton
area_served =
industry = Retail
products =
services =
revenue =
operating_income =
net_income =
num_employees =
parent =
divisions =
subsid =
owner = Vergo Retail Ltd
company_slogan = "The Friends Of The People"
homepage =
dissolved =
footnotes =

Lewis's is a large department store in Liverpool city centre. Lewis's Ltd was a department store group operating in the United Kingdom from 1856 to the 1990s. Only the original Liverpool store continues to trade under the Lewis's name and is owned and operated by Vergo Retail Ltd. The company should not be confused with the still existing and totally separate department store chain John Lewis.


The first Lewis's was opened in 1856 in Liverpool, England by David Lewis, as a men's and boy's clothing store, mostly manufacturing his own stock. In 1864 Lewis's branched out into women's clothing. In the 1870s the store expanded and added departments, including shoes in 1874 and tobacco in 1879.

The first Lewis's outside of Liverpool opened in nearby Manchester in 1877, and another, by personal suggestion from Joseph Chamberlain to his new Corporation Street in Birmingham in 1885. A fourth store opened in Sheffield in 1884 but failed to be profitable and was closed in 1888.

Louis Cohen took over the business after Lewis's death, and oversaw a period of consolidation for the business.

After Louis Cohen's death, control passed to Harold and Rex Cohen, who took the company public in 1924. New stores were once again opened, in Glasgow (1929), Leeds (1932), Hanley in Stoke-on-Trent (1934) and Leicester in 1936. Lewis's were generally the largest department stores in their respective localities.

In 1951 the Lewis's group purchased the famous London department store Selfridges and later became part of the Sears Group headed by Charles Clore.

A branch was opened on Blackpool promenade, next to Blackpool Tower, in 1964. The building had a distinctive 1960s design, with a turquoise tiled exterior. It closed in 1993, building work was undertaken to remove some of the upper floors and the redeveloped site houses a Mecca bingo hall, with the ground floor space being subsequently occupied by Woolworths Group and a variety of small unit retailers.

The company is now defunct. It went into administration in 1991 as a result of problems such as the then recession and failing to compete effectively. This resulted in Liverpool competitor Owen Owen buying up several branches of Lewis's (but retaining the Lewis's brand name on those purchased stores); Sir Philip Green revived the selling of toys on a large scale, by launching the brand Kids HQ in 4 Lewis's Owen Owen Stores, including the Liverpool and Manchester stores. The Leicester branch traded independently for a short while, following a management buyout, as 'Lewis's of Leicester', before finally closing. Other branches including the Birmingham store closed down.

The only store continuing to trade as Lewis's is the Liverpool outlet, following the closure of the Manchester branch in 2001; the latter has since become a branch of Primark. This followed the sale of other branches of Lewis's from Owen Owen to other operators such as Debenhams and Allders during the 1990s.

Although the Liverpool store is still trading, it went into liquidation on February 28 2007 [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/merseyside/6405391.stm] .

On March 23 2007 the Liverpool store was sold as a going concern to Vergo Retail Ltd, enabling the store to continue to trade as Lewis's [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/merseyside/6681529.stm] .

Popular culture

* Above the main entrance to the Liverpool flagship store is a statue of a nude man by Sir Jacob Epstein. Its official title is ‘Liverpool Resurgent’ but is nicknamed locally "Dickie Lewis". It is a well-known local meeting place and was immortalised in the 1962 anthemic song "In My Liverpool Home" by Peter McGovern::"We speak with an accent exceedingly rare,":"Meet under a statue exceedingly bare"

* Paul McCartney once worked as a temp at the Liverpool branch of Lewis's
* In an episode of the sitcom Red Dwarf, Lister, played by Liverpool actor Craig Charles, refers to a girl who was "pretty enough to work on the perfume counter in Lewis's."
* Lewis's Manchester branch, features in a piece of artwork of Piccadilly Gardens, by L S Lowry.

Former locations

*Birmingham - closed 13 July 1991, currently on the ground floor a pub, The Square Peg, with offices above
*Bristol - became John Lewis 1981-1998, then Bentalls 1998-2001 and House of Fraser 2002-2008, latterly becoming Primark when House of Fraser moves to new development
*Ellesmere Port - became a branch of Asda until 2006 when the site was converted into an indoor market, Asda having moved to larger premises nearby.
*Glasgow - currently a branch of Debenhams with ground floor units split to house various retailers
*Hanley - currently a branch of Debenhams
*Leeds - latterly Allders, closed 2005, currently in the process of being split into separate retail units including Sainsbury's and TK Maxx with offices above
*Leicester - rebuilt in 1990s with only the tower remaining, occupied by various retailers including Marks & Spencer
*Manchester - closed 2001, currently occupied by Primark
*Oxford Street, London, Selfridges
*West Thurrock, Lakeside - became Bentalls, then Allders and currently Primark

Further reading

* Briggs, Asa "The Friends of The People, The cenetary History of LEWIS'S" 1956

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