Celebrating 120 Years

Feb 10, 2014 / Inspire

Bright and early on a hazy autumn morning, Henry J. Ryman opened the doors of his very first store on Great Portland street. The sign carried the name of its owner – ‘H. J. Ryman’, the stationery and printing store, opened in October 1893.

Back in the day a spring clean was a necessity after a long cold winter, windows would be shut and coals fires blazing creating heaps of dust and dirt. March was the best time for dusting as the weather was warm enough to open all of the windows and doors and brush it all out.

1893 - Henry John Ryman opened his first store on Great Portland Street, with ‘H. J. Ryman Ltd’ over the door. Within a few decades, this one branch grew to fourteen stores around London.

1931 - The founder passed the mantle over to his son, on his death in this year. Known sweetly as ‘Mr Jack’, Ryman Jr. became the chairman of the thriving company. By the start of the second Great War, he grew the number of stores to twenty five, three of which were later destroyed by bombs. After 20 of overseeing Ryman, ‘Mr Jack’ hands over control of the company to his two sons named Desmond and Nicholas, who take the company through a period of massive growth and success.

1956 - Ryman Ltd.’s Bond Street branch in central London, becomes the first self-service stationery store in the UK. At this time, most stores still operated by asking a cashier for the goods that you need, waiting for them to go and gather your items, then paying for them once they had been rung up and packaged for you. Ryman Stationery was even written about in The Times Newspaper, as it was such a new concept.

1968 - Ryman Stationery briefly joins forces with Terence Conran of Habitat, forming the new company ‘Ryman-Conran’. The partnership ends in 1971, only for Ryman to be taken over by the Burton Group in 1972. The company changes hands once more when it’s bought by entrepreneur Jennifer d’Abo in 1981 making it a private company once more. Within a couple more years, the number of branches had grown to forty four.

1995 - With his eye for great products and business potential, entrepreneur and businessman Theo Paphitis acquired Ryman Ltd. A few years later, in 1998 Theo launched the Ryman website as a transactional point of sale, after the Ryman Direct’ mail order catalogue was launched two years prior. Over the next 10 years Theo combines stationery retailers Partners and Stationery Box to the Ryman Group family, which helped in expanding Ryman to Northern England, Scotland and Wales.

2013 - 120 years later, we stand at 237 stores spread across the UK with a product range that expands by the day. We’re sure our original chairman would be proud.

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