Bedford, John, MBE, OBE

Department store manager, born in Birmingham on 16 January 1903. After working as an assistant and then as a buyer in a local department store, in 1932 he was appointed manager of Debenhams stores in Stratford upon Avon and then of one in Great Yarmouth. His managerial skills were fully demonstrated during the war years in Plymouth, and his contribution to the war effort was recognised by the award of both the MBE and the OBE. In the post-war era he played a significant part in centralising and co-ordinating the Debenhams management. He was appointed deputy chairman in 1954 and chairman and managing director in 1956, despite eschewing the limelight. He introduced an employees' contributory pensions scheme the following year, brought younger blood into the board of directors in 1958 and inaugurated a period of expansion in the company. He retired in 1970.

He was for many years a member of Hinde Street church and served as a local preacher in the London area. He served as a director of Commercial Union and of London Transport and on the executive committee of the Association of British Chambers of Commerce. He died at Eastbourne in 11 November 1980.

  • Times, 20 November 1980
  • Oxford DNB