|Since its establishment in 1843, Arnotts has been a Dublin landmark for generations of Irish people and visitors to the capital city. The largest department store in the country, it is regarded with much affection by Irish people who have grown up with it at the centre of their shopping experiences. With a selling area of more than 300,000 square feet it is ranked in the top five stores in Britain and Ireland, alongside such icons of international retailing as Harrods and Selfridges.|
The Birth of the Department Store 1843-1875
In 1843, Ireland was emerging from a series of food shortages and minor famines. George Cannock and Andrew White established a small business at number 14, Henry Street in Dublin 1. In 1845, bankers Andrew and Patrick Reid loaned them £6,000 to extend the business. After White’s death in 1848, the Reids were joined by a successful Victorian entrepreneur named John Arnott. When Cannock departed the company in 1865 the Reids allowed Arnott to give his name to the company.
Destruction and Reconstruction 1894-1895
The Irish newspapers devoted many columns, even whole pages to the lurid descriptions of the blaze which completely destroyed Arnotts store and stock during the early morning of 4th May 1894. The drawings produced by the Fire Brigade mapped the extent of the blaze when the firemen arrived at 1.18am, just four minutes after receiving the alarm. At 4.30am the fire was deemed ‘under control’ but the fire had consumed the entire store and most of the adjacent Henry Street buildings.
The fire had shocked everybody at Arnotts. Everyone wanted to return as quickly as possible to normal. The directors and managers were united in their determination to rebuild and conserve - they and the staff achieved a miracle in that the trade was only briefly interrupted and Arnotts was quickly rebuilt.
Towards War and Troubles
The destruction in Central Dublin during the Easter Rising of 1916 came very close to the store in Henry Street with the climax of the Rising being fought just a stone’s throw away at the General Post Office on O’Connell Street. It was an eventful period in the history of the company. In a time where destruction and violence were raging on all sides it is almost miraculous to imagine how Arnotts escaped with so little structural damage. It is believed the Pádraig Pearse, President of the Irish Republic made a brief stop at Arnotts to close his account before joining his comrades in the GPO.
Arnotts endured the economic and logistical repercussions of both world wars. The end of World War II in Europe in May 1945 brought with it an outbreak of euphoria. Trading between countries became more fluid and stores were enticing customers with luxurious fabrics and textiles from overseas. Arnotts reacted to the increased demand for product by adding new departments such as The Beauty Shop, Novelties, and Separates.
Arnotts celebrated its 150th anniversary in 1993 with significant redevelopment and the construction of an octagonal dome, which fills the floors below with light. Since then the store has continued with an extensive modernisation programme. We now have everything under one roof for the discerning shopper, including fashion brands such as BCBG, Max & Co, T Tahari, Boutique by Jaeger, Vivienne Westwood Anglomania and Nicole Farhi. This is only the beginning of the evolution at Arnotts as we continue to develop and embrace the world’s finest global brands. In October 2009, Arnotts unveiled its new look ground floor, with double the floor space devoted to the beauty, jewellery and accessories departments
The Conran Shop, a unique and personal collection of home furnishings and gifts, opened in Arnotts at the end of 2009 also. The Conran Shop at Arnotts stocks an exciting edit of furniture, lighting, unique vintage furniture, and a wide selection of home accessories for the bedroom, home office, dining room, living room and bathroom within approx 11,000 sq ft of space. A visit to the Conran Shop is a journey of discovery punctuated by the unique, the unexpected, the witty and the surprising - uncluttered but not minimal. Changes of pace are important in both the product collection and the unique way in which products are shown together.
Arnotts is committed to offering the best modern retail experience in Ireland, and will continue to expand range of quality products and services available to our customers in a welcoming, vibrant atmosphere.