Shop Direct Group (UK)

Shop Direct Group is the UK's biggest home shopping business, offering affordable private label fashion as well as national brands. The original core of the business was Littlewoods Home Shopping, but this was later supplemented by several key acquisitions, including the former GUS portfolio of Great Universal, Empire Stores and Kay's, and later the online operations of Woolworths in the UK. The group also launched two online-only brands. Very, introduced in 2009, was originally aimed at younger and more style-conscious buyers, while Isme, launched two years later, was aimed at fashion-conscious women in their 40s and 50s. Very quickly became the group's single biggest business, and in 2015, all other banners were either closed or merged into twin brands Very and Littlewoods. Sales for the year to 2015 were almost £1.8bn. Alex Baldock is CEO, but the business is privately owned by the secretive investors Sir David and Sir Frederick Barclay, and chaired by Sir David's son Aidan Barclay. Littlewoods was originally launched in 1932 as a catalogue shopping sideline to the sports betting (or "pools") business owned by the Moores family of Liverpool. High street stores followed a few years later. However, sales declined sharply after the 1980s as a result of competition from the likes of Next, and Littlewoods was sold in 2002 to the Barclay brothers, who had made their original fortune by investing in London property in the 1970s. They sold the retail estate (to Primark), and acquired the GUS home shopping division a year later. Their other major interests include London's Ritz Hotel and the Telegraph Media Group. Adbrands does not currently offer a business profile for this company but subscribers may access account assignments and contact information. The searchable account assignments database is available to full subscribers to premium services. Click here to access Adbrands account assignments (subscribers only); or see here for information on how to subscribe.

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Capsule checked 29th October 2015

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