Person Born 11/1/1858 Died 8/5/1947
Born Wisconsin. Too small to join the navy he became a clerk in a department store, where he rose to manager and then set out on his own. Very successful, he "retired" in 1906, moved to London and employed a Chicago architect, Daniel Burnham, to design his new store in Oxford Street, opened in 1909. He brought new ideas to British retailing; he is said to be the originator of "The customer is always right". Made his personality felt, touring the shop floor every day, formally dressed in a top hat.
After his wife's death in 1918 he continued his extravagant life-style with a liaison with Syrie Wellcome (see Somerset Maugham for some info about her) and with a series of well-known ladies of the theatre, including a pair of identical twins the Dolly Sisters, entertaining lavishly at his home, Lansdowne House at 9 Fitzmaurice Place. Through poor financial management he gradually lost control of the business, finally departing in 1941. When he died 6 years later he had lost his fortune and, owning no property, was living with his daughter at 2 Ross Court, Putney Heath, where he died.