Selfridges is a chain of high-end department stores in the UK. The flagship store in London’s Oxford Street is the second largest shop in the UK (after Harrods) and was opened 15th March 1909. More recently, three other stores have been opened; in Trafford, Greater Manchester (1998), in Manchester City Centre’s Exchange Square (2002) and in the Bullring, Birmingham (2003).
The London store was established in 1909 by American retailer, Henry Selfridge. His innovative marketing led to the store’s success. Selfridge tried to make shopping a fun adventure instead of a chore. He put merchandise on display so customers could examine it, and put the highly profitable perfume counter front-and-centre on the ground floor, and established policies that made it safe and easy for customers to shop – techniques that were adopted by modern department stores the world over. Selfridge attracted shoppers with educational and scientific exhibits, believing that the displays would introduce potential new customers to the store.
In 1927, Selfridges acquired Whiteley’s of Bayswater. Further store acquisitions – from Cole Brothers in Sheffield to C.J. Harvey’s in Leeds – meant that in 1929 Selfridges was the largest retail group in Europe.
In the 1940s, the provincial Selfridge stores were sold to John Lewis. The remaining Oxford Street store was acquired in 1951 by Lewis’s, which was in turn taken over in 1965 by the Sears Group. In 2003 the Selfridge chain was acquired by the Canadian, Galen Weston, for £598 million.
The first Selfridge overprint seems to be the initials only version, shown here on SG 341. All the later Selfridge overprints are in style (V2a). There are some minor differences in font size on some of the issues.