When it comes to retail know-how, it’s no exaggeration to say we lead the field. With over a century in the business, and numerous achievements along the way, we continue to break new ground as we always have: by looking forward.
Today we’re a modern, fast-moving business comprising eight of the high street's best-known and most exciting fashion brands, eight online stores and an ever-growing roster of concessions and international franchise outlets spanning Europe, the Far East and Middle East.
We employ a staggering 45,000 people and by implementing the latest retailing strategies we’re constantly developing our diverse portfolio in order to deliver a premium service to our customers. Little wonder our brands are the envy of the retail world.
THE STORY SO FAR...
The Arcadia Group began life in the early 1900s when 18-year-old Lithuanian émigré Montague Burton arrived in Britain and borrowed £100 to set up an eponymous menswear business in Chesterfield. The Burton shop was a success and within six years he had established a chain of Burton stores selling both ready-to-wear and bespoke suits. In 1910, the thriving business relocated to Leeds, where Arcadia Group retains a major office location to this day.
The advent of the First World War in 1914 provided Montague with further expansion opportunities as his growing business supplied clothing for a quarter of the armed forces.
By the end of the conflict, Burton employed 132 staff at its Leeds headquarters.
In the early 1920s, Montague began to develop the Hudson Road factory in Leeds. Within 15 years the enterprise (which today is the location for Arcadia Group's accounting and facilities teams) had become the largest clothing factory in Europe.
Montague adopted a philanthropic approach to business, which was evident when he implemented a welfare office at the Hudson Road factory, providing workers with meals, a dentist and an eye specialist to treat eye strain brought on by close needle-work. In 1931 Montague received a knighthood for 'services to industrial relations'; he also served as a Justice of the Peace for many years.
By the end of the Second World War Burton was estimated to be clothing around a fifth of the British male population. In 1946 Montague made his first foray into womenswear with the acquisition of the Peter Robinson women’s fashion chain.
In 1952, the year in which Sir Montague died, the company he founded comprised a staggering 616 stores, making it the largest multiple tailor in the world.
The mid-1960s saw the unveiling of Topshop – a ‘young fashion department’ within Peter Robinson, and in 1969 the business changed its name to The Burton Group. A year later, Topman was launched as a counterpart to Topshop, catering to a young male audience and within 12 months The Group had added Evans to its portfolio of businesses. The mid-1970s saw the first standalone Topshop store open its doors, thus cementing its reputation as one of the high street’s leading fashion retailers.
Following the acquisition of Dorothy Perkins in 1979 and an extended period of growth throughout the 1980s and 1990s, The Burton Group demerged in 1997, divesting its department store business to focus on its fashion multiples and giving rise to the Arcadia Group. In 1999 the Arcadia Group acquired Wallis, Miss Selfridge and Outfit thus completing the Group’s current stable of dynamic fashion brands.
In 2002 Arcadia Group became part of Taveta Investments – owned by Sir Philip Green and his family – thus joining the UK’s largest privately owned retail group. Since then, we’ve enjoyed significant expansion in our eCommerce division as well as rapid growth in our international presence. This latter sector includes the opening of own-brand branches in New York, Chicago, Las Vegas and Los Angeles, as well as a large number of successful franchises around the world.