Heals (retailer)

Heals (retailer)

Heals ("Heal and Sons Ltd") is a British department store chain comprising of seven stores, [ [http://www.heals.co.uk/scat/stores Heal's - Stores ] ] and was founded in 1810 by John Harris Heal.

The stores sell an upmarket range of furniture, lighting, accessories, home and garden-wares.

Heal's Stores

*Tottenham Court Road, London [ [http://www.heals.co.uk/stry/londonw1 Heal's - Tottenham Court Road, London W1 ] ]
*Kings Road, Chelsea, London [ [http://www.heals.co.uk/stry/londonsw3 Heal's - King's Road, London SW3 ] ]
*Eden Street, Kingston upon Thames, London [ [http://www.heals.co.uk/stry/kingston Heal's - Eden Street, Kingston, Surrey KT1 ] ]
*New Cathedral Street, Manchester [ [http://www.heals.co.uk/stry/manchester Heal's - New Cathedral Street, Manchester M1 ] ]
*Tunsgate Shopping Centre, Guildford, Surrey [ [http://www.heals.co.uk/stry/guildford Heal's - Tunsgate Shopping Centre, Guildford, Surrey GU1 ] ]
*Duke Street, Brighton, Sussex [ [http://www.heals.co.uk/stry/brighton Heal's - Duke Street, Brighton BN1 ] ]
*Redbrick Mill, West Yorkshire [ [http://www.heals.co.uk/stry/redbrick Heal's - Redbrick Mill, West Yorkshire ] ]

Heal's History

It was established in the 1810 by John Harris Heal. [Alan Crawford, "Heal, Sir Ambrose (1872–1959)", "Oxford Dictionary of National Biography", Oxford University Press, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/33786 accessed 12 Aug 2007] ]

Originally a bed making firm, Heal's was run as a family business until its acquisition by Habitat/Mothercare (later to become Storehouse) in 1983.

Ambrose Heal

Its present-day style was set during the long ‘reign’ of Sir Ambrose Heal, who worked in the Company as craftsman, designer and finally Chairman, for 60 years from 1893 to 1953.

Ambrose Heal’s contribution both to the business, and to British furniture-making in general, was his ability to take the aesthetic ethos of the Arts and Crafts Movement – “Have nothing in your home except what you know to be useful or believe to be beautiful” – and apply to it the disciplines and economies of commercial production techniques (albeit at the highest level of quality).

Ambrose Heal was also a founder, in 1915, of the Design and Industries Association, which eventually became the Design Council.

Heal's at Tottenham Court Road

Heal’s has operated since its foundation in the Tottenham Court Road, and from the present site since 1840. [London's Old Latin Quarter: Being an Account of Tottenham Court Road and Its ... By Edwin Beresford Chancellor - Page 153] Its first purpose-built store, completed in 1854, was then one of the largest in London. The central part of the present building was commissioned by Ambrose Heal and designed by his cousin and best friend Cecil Brewer. It was completed in 1917 and was immediately hailed as a landmark in shop architecture.

New Store: Guildford

A second store was opened in Guildford in 1972 and the Company remained highly profitable until the mid 1970s, when it began to suffer losses, principally in the non-retail businesses.

Acquisition by Storehouse

Until its acquisition by Storehouse in 1983, the business operated as a number of separate companies carrying out particular trading activities. These included retailing, contracting, fabric conversion and wholesaling, cabinet furniture manufacture and bed and bedding manufacture. The various operating companies were owned by an investment company, Heal & Son (Holdings) Ltd. After the acquisition, a number of trading activities were reduced and the Company now operates only as a retailer.

Expansion to 5 Stores

In 1984 Heal’s was re launched and expanded to five stores from the original two. However, in the recession of the late 1980s the business again incurred losses and after shrinking back to the two original stores the Company was the subject of a management buy out.

The buy out became effective in September 1990 ending a seven year period in the Storehouse group of companies.

Whilst part of Storehouse, as one of a portfolio of retail chains, Heal’s benefited from the professional retail skills and disciplines that a large retail group can bring. However, Storehouse largely had a chain store mentality that did not sit comfortably with a brand like Heal’s, which has a strong and distinctive personality. The effect was to make the business a little bland, even dull, with the merchandise being somewhat uninspiring.

Following the advent of the buy out the business under went radical change to revitalise the brand and its personality.The merchandise range was considerably expanded with most of the product lines changed to new exclusive ranges largely designed specially for Heal’s.

Heal's in the 1990s

In the second half of the nineties Heal’s started to expand and develop, opening a new store on King’s Road Chelsea in December 1995 and floating the Company on the London Stock Exchange on 24 March 1997. Two years later on 23 October 1999 a fourth store opened at Kingston upon Thames.

The beginning of the 21st Century saw Heal’s launch its e-commerce and information website www.heals.co.uk in November 2000, just in time for Christmas trading and bringing Heal’s to customers further a field than the south east of England.

Acquisition by Wittington Investments

On 16 August 2001 Wittington Investments Limited acquired Heal’s plc. As a private company once again Heal’s was able to move forward free from the restraints imposed by being in the public arena and the short term focus of the City. The new owner of the Company fully supports the Heal’s brand and its unique character intending that Heal’s continues as a leading contemporary home furnishing retailer.

New Store: Manchester

Over the past five years, Heal’s has been revitalising the business with new branding, including a new logo and graphics, introducing new products and services and producing a new branding campaign to convey the changes to the public. Expansion of stores, outside South East of England, has also started with the opening of Heal’s fifth store in the centre of Manchester on the 24 July 2003 and on Heal’s arriving at Redbrick Mill in Batley, near Leeds on 5 November 2005.

September 2006 saw the refurbishment of Heal’s flagship at 196 Tottenham Court Road, London W1 with new departments and a new restaurant and bakery run by Oliver Peyton. New services include Wedding and Gift Service online, [http://www.weddingandgiftlist.co.uk Heal's Wedding and Gift List] adaptation and bespoke furniture, bespoke rugs and a curtain and blind making service.

New Store: Brighton

In June 2007, Heal’s opened by the seaside in Brighton. Nestled in the stylish Lanes Area, it takes Heal’s store expansion to seven.

Future Plans

Future plans include the continuing expansion of stores outside the South East of England, together with constantly updated stores and merchandise in-store and online to make Heal’s an inspirational and enjoyable place to shop for different home ideas and solutions.

References

External links

* [http://www.heals.co.uk Heals website]
* [http://www.ihirdu.com/UK/Furniture.aspx Heals' current rating on ihirdu.com]


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