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Great Universal Stores
now rebranded as K and Co

Great Universal Stores was founded in 1900 by Abraham and George Rose as a mail order business in Manchester, originally called universal stores. Front page of a Great Universal Stores home shopping catalogue of the 1930s

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 Home retail groupleading 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 and Homebase.

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 Direct Group. Great Universal catalogue is now know ast K&Co.

Great Universal is currently trading as part of the K&Co online catalogue. Go to K&Co. at catalogue connection to get more information regarding the current offers. This site also reviews all the home shopping/mail order catalogue websites currently available in the UK.
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