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Millets History

Millets, at home outdoors.

We’re proud of our tradition. For generations our customers have relied on us for the clothing and equipment as well as advice and encouragement to fulfil their outdoor adventures and that remains as true today as ever.

How it all began

Millets was formed by multiple companies that came together over the years to form the business we love today. It all started over a century ago in 1893 when our founder, J.M Millet, opened a drapers and outfitters business in Southampton and Bristol before handing over the Bristol store to his Grandson, JB Spielman, in 1923. His Grandson increased the merchandise with a wider range of clothing, boots, shoes and much more which helped the business grow to five stores by 1939.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t to last. Bomb damage and stock shortages during the war had a huge impact on the company forcing two stores to close by 1951. After the devastation the war had caused Millets picked itself back up and by 1961 there were 11 shops attached to the company and by the early ‘70s Henderson Sports and Marcus Stores Limited were acquired providing Millets with a total of 54 units. In 1979, Foster Brothers Clothing plc took over the business which continued to grow.

The start of the second Milletts

Morris Millett, another businessman who played a valuable role in the history of Millets, opened a haberdashery shop in Croydon in 1920. By 1948 the business was trading from 8 stores and A.C. Millett joined his father’s business after the leaving the army.

A few years later A.C. Millett formed his own business, A.C. Millett & Co, (ACM) in Richmond. By 1962 that business had grown to 35 shops, including 13 acquired in that year when ACM bought E. G. Millett & Co, a company owned by a distant cousin of A.C. Millett (so many Milletts’).

In 1964, ACM continued his rapid growth by acquiring the business of G.H. Lavey & Co Ltd, consisting of 50 retail menswear units dotted around the country, mainly situated in Kent, the Midlands and the North of England.

In 1978, the company moved to Northampton and was listed on the London Stock Exchange as Milletts Leisure plc. In 1984, the group acquired more than 50 shops from Wakefields (Midlands) Ltd.

Coming together

It was 1986 when Foster Brothers Clothing acquired Milletts Leisure plc joining Millets and Milletts together to create Millets Leisure Limited.

Where we are now

Millets underwent further changes in more recent years when in 1996 it became the Outdoor Group boasting 158 stores. Blacks Leisure Group then acquired the company and in 2009 after some restructuring, the store portfolio was reduced to 208.

In 2012, JD Sports Fashion plc acquired Blacks from administration. Today Millets trade 97 stores nationwide and continue to be known as the destination for camping and outdoor adventure gear on the high street.