House of Fraser
There was a time when the department store was the cornerstone of any major high street. No longer. But London still has dozens, and many of those in the centre of town are world famous. Harrods is surely the ultimate example of the one-off one stop shop, and Selfridges' flagship store on Oxford Street can't be far behind. But look out to the suburbs and several independent stores somehow survive, battling against changes in household taste and the onslaught of online shopping.
In Ruislip High Street there's John Sanders, and in Wembley the drapery-focused Blands, while New Malden hosts a proper family business at Tudor Williams. Morleys of Brixton branched out in Tooting and then bought up several other independent stores, including Elys on nearby Wimbledon High Street. Its other conquests are to the north and east, including Pearsons of Enfield, Selby's on the Holloway Road, Roomes in Upminster and the delightfully named Bodgers of Ilford. If you've never been to any of these outer London outlets, you're missing a treat.
Fans of John Lewis have only five 'proper' department stores to choose from, although others exist just outside London in Watford and Bluewater. Houses of Fraser are even more scarce, whereas Debenhams are ten a penny, and Marks and Spencer trade all over. Other than central London there are department store hotspots at Brent Cross, the Westfields, Ilford, Kingston and Croydon. Southeast London fares relatively poorly, but the largest department store vacuum appears to be in north London, as if Brent Cross sucked all the customers away.
All this is assuming I've got the map right, of course. Have I missed any department stores anywhere, or included any that have since closed? Sorry, I'm not interested in closed ones, because that'd be a whole different post...