Bobby & Co.

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Bobby & Co. was a provincial department store group based mainly in seaside towns on the south coast of England. The business operated from 1887 until 1972.

Early history[edit]

In 1887, Frederick James Bobby (1860-1941) bought an established drapery store in Margate, Kent, located on the corner of High Street and Queen Street.[1] The business grew to incorporate several neighbouring premises. In 1900, the business was incorporated and an expansion programme was begun, opening stores in specially selected towns, mostly seaside resorts. Stores were opened in Leamington Spa, Folkestone, Eastbourne, Torquay, Cliftonville, Bournemouth, Exeter (formerly Green & Son, acquired 1922) and Southport.[2]

In the 1920s the business employed the artist F Gregory Brown[3] to design a number of advertisement posters, which were printed by Bobby's own print shop and displayed in railway stations. Brown was also employed, at the same time, by Kensington department store Derry & Toms.


Frederick Bobby retired from the business in 1927, selling his shares to a recently formed retail conglomerate, the Drapery Trust. The Bobby & Co. group was run as a separate entity within the trust, chaired by Frederick Bobby's son. The company was funded to further expand, incorporating the Bristol department store of John Cordeux & Son (renamed Bobby & Co.) in 1928. The Margate store was refurbished in 1937.[4] The Debenhams group had emerged from the Drapery Trust by the 1950s. By this time the Bobby & Co. subsidiary had expanded to include Dusts of Tunbridge Wells, Handleys of Southsea, Haymans of Totnes, Hills of Hove, Hubbards of Worthing, Simes of Worcester, Taylors of Bristol and Wellsteeds of Reading.[5]

In the early 1970s the decision was taken by the Debenhams board to rationalise the entire group and bring the majority of their department stores under the Debenhams brand. The stores in Margate and Cliftonville were closed in 1972,[6] while all other stores trading under the Bobby's name were rebranded as Debenhams.


  1. ^ "Bobbys stores part of a golden age of shopping". Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  2. ^ Michael Behm. "COSGB". Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  3. ^ "Furnishing. Bobby & Co., Ltd". Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  4. ^ Michael Behm. "COSGB". Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  5. ^ Corina, Maurice (1978). Fine Silks & Oak Counters: Debenhams 1778-1978 (First ed.). London: Hutchinson Benham. p. 134. ISBN 0 09 134910 9. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  6. ^ Tony Ovenden. "Thanet coast life". Retrieved 30 October 2014.