Bentalls facade in Kingston
|Headquarters||Kingston upon Thames, United Kingdom|
Number of locations
|Leonard Edward Rowan Bentall (Chairman 1968-78, President 1978-93)|
Bentalls is a British department store chain with a branch in Kingston upon Thames. The well regarded 'county' department store began as a drapery shop, founded by Frank Bentall in 1867. The company was formerly listed on the London Stock Exchange, but since 2001 has been owned by the private Fenwick group.
Bentalls was established in 1867 by Frank Bentall who purchased a drapery shop in Kingston upon Thames. The principal buildings of the Kingston store were completed in 1935 to a design by architect Maurice Webb (son of Sir Aston Webb) and inspired by Wren's design for Hampton Court. The fine stonework on the façade was the work of Eric Gill. Between 1935 and 1976 it was the UK's largest department store outside central London. It became a Grade II listed building in 2011.
The facade of the original store has been retained as part of the Bentall Centre shopping development which was opened in 1992, in which the principal Bentalls store is now located. The store previously occupied buildings covering the entire site of the development.
The company was floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1946, but the Bentall family retained a controlling interest.
Under the association with Frank Bentall's grandson Rowan Bentall, who was Chairman between 1968-1978, the company expanded and opened further stores in Bracknell, Chatham, Ealing, Lakeside, Royal Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge and Worthing. As a result, the group's turnover more than doubled from £14.5 million to £35.1 million.
The company subsequently opened a store in Bristol and closed the stores in Chatham and Royal Tunbridge Wells.
In 2000, the chain rejected a £27 million offer from its rival Allders.
In June of that year, the family-owned rival department store chain Fenwick purchased Bentalls for £70.8 million. The Bentall family's shareholding at the time was 38%, with Frank Bentall's great grandson Edward Bentall being the Chairman. The company's turnover was £108.2 million. The chain then consisted of six stores, in: Bracknell, Ealing, Kingston upon Thames, Lakeside, Tonbridge and Worthing.
Fenwick subsequently closed the Lakeside store and sold the leases of the Bentalls sites in Ealing, Tonbridge and Worthing to the Bournemouth based Beales group. However, it retained the successful stores in Kingston upon Thames and Bracknell.
The Bracknell branch which opened in April 1973 has closed down and has re-branded as Fenwick as of September 2017.
Kingston is one of the largest retail centres in the south-east and Bentalls itself is popular among many shoppers. In the days approaching Christmas, Bentalls Kingston is said to take over £1 million per day.
Department store locations
- Bracknell (closed and re-branded as Fenwick in 2017)
- Bristol (sold to House of Fraser in 2001)
- Chatham (closed)
- Ealing (sold to Beales in 2001)
- Lakeside (closed)
- Royal Tunbridge Wells (closed)
- Tonbridge (sold to Beales in 2001)
- Worthing (sold to Beales in 2001)
In popular culture
Bentalls features in the Ladybird Books People at Work series, appearing in In A Big Store
Bentalls Wood Street entrance also features in the Ladybird Books People at Work series " The Police". A night time scene where two police constables are arresting what appears to be some burglars.
Bentalls' 1935 facade inspired by Hampton Court Palace