Kaleidoscope (retailer)

Kaleidoscope is a catalogue and online based retailer specialising in women’s fashion and accessories, but also stocking homewear and electricals. Kaleidoscope is owned by Freemans Grattan Holdings (previously named Otto UK), which is in turn owned by Otto GmbH – one of the largest retailers in the world[1] with over 50,000 employees at 123 companies across more than 20 countries.[2]

Freemans Grattan Holdings largely operates in the UK through brands including Freemans, Grattan, Kaleidoscope, Oli, Look Again, Bon Prix and Witt. The company also owns Hermes (Previously named Parcelnet[3]) – A European home delivery courier company


Kaleidoscope was originally a division of W H Smith, and traded as their ‘Book Club’. This division was better known as BCA (Book Club Associate). In 1982 Grattan purchased both the Kaleidoscope name and the mailing list. The operation was managed and run from a location in Leicester with both computer and distribution resource being used in Bradford, from Grattan, as it is today.

In 1985 Grattan purchased the Scotcade operation which was in Bridgnorth, Shropshire, and this is where Kaleidoscope relocated to and operated from with both Companies under one roof. The next few years saw the business develop and the acquisition of Aspect (a similar operation to Scotcade), which was originally based in Wetherby. This growth led to the formation of a strong Direct Mail Division. During this time Grattan, under the direction of David Jones (MD), had merged with Next [4] who were based in Leicester and managed by George Davies (retailer) - who is now synonymous with the ‘George’ brand in Asda stores. As a result of the Next site having sizeable office space Kaleidoscope returned to Leicester in 1989.

1991 saw the current owners, Otto GmbH, purchase Grattan Plc,[5] with Kaleidoscope part of this deal. The Direct Mail Division remained in Leicester, but moved from the Next site to a new location in 1994-1995. It was decided in March 1997 that Kaleidoscope should move to Bradford where group synergies could be utilised. This move actually took place in August 1997 resulting in a separate office space on the third floor of Anchor House, Bradford, housing the Kaleidoscope operation.

In December 2008, Otto UK became Freemans Grattan Holdings (FGH)[6] to celebrate many years of trading and embrace a strong British heritage. Kaleidoscope is one of the key brands which form FGH. The business has seen some large growth with a gross annual turnover of £4m in 1982 increasing to its current figure of approximately £100m. The work force today operates with approximately 60 personnel, with the resources of FGH playing a vital supporting role.

With over 25 years of brand heritage, unsurprisingly the product offering has evolved over this time with the main focus now on distinctive fashion for style conscious women. The wider product range also includes fashion accessories, bedding and soft furnishings along with homewares and gardening.

Kaleidoscope is a catalogue and online retailer targeting affluent women aged predominantly 45+ with an interest in fashion and homes. Approximately half of all demand is generated online and growing this is a key focus moving forward.


Kaleidoscope is based at Vicar Lane in Bradford along with Freemans Grattan Holdings and all of its sub-companies.



  1. Deloitte - Global Powers of Retailing 09
  2. Otto Group - The Otto Group
  3. Hermes Europe
  4. The Catalog Shop - Catalogue History - Grattan
  5. EU Commission - Competition - Case m70_en
  6. Retail Week - Freemans Moots US Fascias For UK As Restructuring Starts
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