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Richard Shops is a former well-known British high street retailer of women's fashion.
Richard Shops was part of the clothes-selling empire United Drapery Stores, a group created in 1927 by Joseph Collier. Richards was managed by Rudy Weil until his retirement in the mid-1970s. From the 1960s to the 1990s it was a ubiquitous part of almost every British high street and shopping centre, selling fashion clothing designed to appeal to young women.
United Drapery acquired Richard Shops in 1958, following the acquisitions of the menswear businesses Prices Tailors and Alexandre. There followed a rapid expansion and promotion of the stores. In the 1970s a hugely popular television advertisement began to appear with a memorable jingle.
In 1983 UDS was sold to Hanson plc, but, in an attempt to recover the cost of the purchase, Hanson immediately split Richard Shops from UDS and sold it on as a separate company. It was bought by the newly formed retail group Habitat/Mothercare PLC, and became part of Storehouse plc following the merger of Habitat/Mothercare with British Home Stores in 1986.
With the financial troubles suffered by the Storehouse group in the late 1980s, Richard Shops began to lose direction at a time when the high street was becoming a more competitive place for fashion retailers. Since 1972 the men's clothing retailer Burton's had been expanding its chain of women's fashion stores under the TopShop brand, and in 1979 it acquired Richard Shops' longtime rival Dorothy Perkins. A more direct assault on Richard Shops came from the Burton Group as Burton's was now known in 1984 when it launched the women's fashion chain Principles. Not only did Principles manage to capture something of the mood of the late 1980s in its designs, but it represented the most direct assault to date by Burton on the largely middle-class customer base of Richard Shops.
In 1988 Storehouse appointed a new chief executive, Michael Julien , to replace Terence Conran, and the group was reorganised into three divisions, with Richard Shops sharing 'Speciality Retailing' with the group's brands Mothercare, Blazer, Anonymous, and Jacadi.
In 1992 Richard Shops was sold to the British retailing giant Sears plc (not to be confused with the American stores of the same name), the then owner of the London department store Selfridges, and the women's clothing retailers Wallis, Miss Selfridge and Outfit. In 1999 Sir Philip Green, who had acquired Sears plc, transferred Richard Shops, along with Wallis, to the Arcadia Group which immediately announced the closure of all branches of Richard Shops, or their conversion to other Arcadia brands.
Today the company Richard Shops Holdings, and associated limited companies, are still registered with Companies House as 'dormant companies' with their head offices at Arcadia's headquarters in London. However no stores are now trading as Richard Shops.