Great Universal Stores was founded in 1900 by Abraham and George Rose as a mail order business in
Manchester, originally called universal stores.
In 1930 the company changed it's name to Great Universal Stores Limited and in 1931 it was first
listed on the London Stock Exchange, at this point it was the leading mail order business in the UK.
During the 1930s a second catalogue named "John England" was also produced. In 1937 GUS acquired
Kays Catalogue and
established mail order company which had operated from Worcester since the 1880s. Kays stayed as a seperate
company until the 1980s.
Also in the 1940s GUS extended into furniture retailing and acquired some overseas businesses.
After the war, a fourth catalogue called "Trafford" was launched and evolved into
Marshall Ward. The
company stayed pretty much the same until the mid sixites when John Myers and John England where added to the
portfolio. In the early seventies when the company acquired John Noble, Choice and Family Album.
Great Universal changed it's name in 2001 to GUS plc, however Great Universal catalogue continued to be called
Great Univeral. In 2004, the company sold its traditional catalogues division to the Barclay twins, Sir
David and Sir Frederick, who merged it into their Littlewoods empire. This included the iconic Great Universal
Stores catalogue, from which the company took its name, and completed the departure of GUS from its original
business areas. Around the same time, the Barclays announced the closure of the Littlewoods Index retail chain,
the principal rival to Argos in the UK, selling around 35 stores to Argos.
In October 2006, GUS plc was demerged
into two businesses, Experian and Home Retail Group. Trading in shares of the two groups on the
London Stock Exchange began on 11 October, 2006.
Home Retail Group is the UK's leading home and general merchandise retailer with sales
of over £5.5 billion in 2006. It sells products under two distinctive and complementary retail brands, Argos
Great Universal Stores was de-merged and bought by the Barclay brothers in 2003, where it became Shop
Direct, in October 2005 it merged the Littlewoods Home Shopping and is now part of the Littlewoods Shop
Go to Great Universal
at catalogue connection to get more information regarding the Great Universal catalogue
this site also reviews all the home shopping/mail order catalogue websites available in the UK.