The Shop Direct Group is the UK home shopping giant that includes the catalogues Littlewoods, Marshall Ward, Empire Stores and Kays catalogue. It was established in November 2005 following the merger of the Littlewoods and Shop Direct companies and named the Littlewoods Shop Direct Group until 2009 when it was rebranded as the Shop Direct Group.
The Littlewoods mail order and catalogue empire was founded by Sir John Moores in 1923. It continued to grow and became probably the best known catalogue company in the UK until it was sold to the Barclay brothers in 2004.
Following the aquisition of Littlewoods, the Barclay twins bought Shop Direct, the home shopping division of Great Universal Stores (or GUS plc). This new company was called the Shop Direct Group and now included :
- Great Universal
- Empire Stores
- Kays catalogue
- Marshall Ward
- Choice catalogue
- Additions Direct
- Littlewoods Direct
In May 2008 the company was rebranded as the Shop Direct Group and the following year the brand name of Woolworths was purchased and added to the group.
- 2005 - Littlewoods Shop Direct Group established
- 2008 - Rebranded as Shop Direct Group
- 2009 - Littlewoods Direct rebranded as Very catalogue
- 2010 - Kays, Empire Stores & Great Universal rebranded as K and Co
- 2011 - Marshall Ward rebranded as Isme catalogue
- 2011 - New website BrandQuarter added
In 2010, Shop Direct decided to rationlise their bulky list of catalogue brands in an attempt to cut costs. Following on from the rebranding of Littlewoods Direct, it was decided to merge the 3 catalogues Kays, Empire Direct and Great Universal into one catalogue called K and Co. Additions Direct was decommissioned along with Choice catalogue plus Marshall Ward was rebranded as Isme. A brand new discount flavoured catalogue was also introduced in 2011 called Brand Quarter. The current list of Shop Direct catalogue brands are :
- K and Co
- Very catalogue