In 1826 two close friends, R.B. Stewart and John McDonald, opened a wholesale and retail drapery warehouse in Buchannon Street, Glasgow.
By the late 1830s the company was supplying retailers from Glasgow and surrounding districts with drapery of every description. In 1847 Stewart and McDonald acquired premises at 152 Argyle Street and 4 Mitchell Street. From 1860 the departments were greatly extended, both in Buchannon Street and Argyle Street and along the east side of Mitchell Street.
In 1866 an Italian style retail warehouse was erected north of the original site at 21 Buchannon Street. The 1880s saw a factory established in Dunlop Street. The factory made costumes and shirts.
Factories were also established in Leeds for ready-made clothing and in Strabane, Northern Ireland for shirts, collars and ladies’ underwear.
By the 1890s Stewart & McDonald had branches in several British cities as well as in Montreal and Toronto (Canada) and Melbourne and Sydney (Australia). The company employed 500 warehouse staff and 70 salesmen.
In 1900 the firm went public with the trading name of Stewart & McDonald Limited. In 1913 the retail section of the business became a separate company called McDonalds Limited.
In 1922 Stewart & McDonald Limited merged with another large drapery business in Glasgow called J. & W. Campbell to become Campbells and Stewart & McDonald based at Ingram Street.
The firm continued trading into the 1960s before being taken over by House of Fraser.