In 1854 John Heelas, with his sons John and Daniel, established a drapery shop at 33 Minster Street in Reading. By 1877 the small shop had expanded to become a fully-fledged department store. In 1897 the family firm became a public company, Heelas Sons & Co. Ltd.
One of the features of the business was the factories which made many of the goods for the shop, including furniture, bedding and tailoring workshops.
In 1947 Heelas was sold to Charles Clore. He disposed of the company three years later to United Drapery Stores who, in turn, finally sold it to the John Lewis Partnership in 1953. At this time Heelas was the largest department store in Berkshire and had its own removals business and a funeral department.
Heelas overprints seem to be confined to the 2d stamps of King George V and King George VI.