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Army & Navy Co

Army & Navy Co

Army & Navy was governed by a board of directors, many of whom were retired Army & Navy officers.

The Army & Navy Co-operative Society Ltd was incorporated in 1871, It was formed to supply general domestic items at the lowest remunerative rate to its members.

The Society Leased a portion of a distillery premises on Victoria Street, London. The store opened in early 1872 selling groceries. Soon after they were supplying stationery, fancy goods and tailoring and by the end of 1873 the had added a chemists and gun department. The business soon needed to expand so they purchased another warehouse in Johnson Place.

By 1786 the business had outgrown its premises so they leased more of the distillery and moved the warehouse from Johnson Place to a new location on Ranelagh Road and was now offering banking to its members.

In 1878 they had opened stores in Paris and Leipzig.

In 1881 the society purchase the rest of the distillery and had the whole sight open by 1882.
With continual growth stores were opened in plymouth and Bombay, India. In 1891 another store was opened in Karachi. The success in India continued through the early 1900's and by 1930 the society had stores in Kolkota, New Dehli, Shimla and Ranchi.

However, the business was greatly impacted by the First World Ware which saw trade suffer. This impact was softened in part by a contract from the War Office. After the war the society was hit by staff strikes, but this didn't slow the development of its Victoria Street site.

Then came the Second World War which hit the company hard with two sites being damaged during bombing, including the plymouth depot which was completely destroyed. Trading difficulties were exaggerated after the war when India gained independence in 1947. The last colonial store closed in 1952.

With the closure of the stores in India they focused their attention on expanded the UK businesses and they started buying up companies all over the country. They were also focusing on building new stores and expanding their sites in Guilford, Chichester, Dorchester and Wolverhampton.

In 1973 they began work on replacing the Victoria Street site and the building was completed in 1977. However in 1973 while work had commenced, Army & navy stores was purchased by House of Fraser.
The business was liquidated soon after.