In 1905, Aitken&Niven was established, as “gentlemen’s tailors of distinction” providing tailored suits for both work and leisure. The workrooms at Queensferry Street & Rose Street were busy environments, in which its tailors sat cross-legged sewing Suits, as this was believed to be the best posture at the time whilst working.The first few years proved successful for the store and it continued to trade during the 1st World War by expanding into Ladies Tailoring and Military Service uniforms. It is also a credit to Aitken&Niven that the store managed to survive the Great Depression of the 1930’s when many contemporary stores went out of business.
The advent of the 2nd World War introduced fabric rationing, and a threat to Aitken&Niven’s business. In 1943 however, A&N introduced its School Uniform Department. This suggestion came from William Ferguson, who had previously held a position at the Edinburgh store, Jenner’s, as a senior salesman. This idea made him into a partner of the firm, and his grandsons, David and Richard Ferguson continue to manage the business today.
Aitken&Niven became a limited company after the war in 1949, and continued trading at 46 Queensferry Street, until the store moved to 79 George Street in 1958.David & Richard’s father, Derek had joined the company in 1955. A few years after A&N moved to George Street, Derek’s father, William, passed away and Derek took over as Managing Director in May 1964. Under his guidance, the store continued to successfully develop through the 1960’s and 70’s. At this time, the concept of ‘self-service’ in stores grew, and as conglomerates bought over a large number of department stores, Aitken&Niven continued to place faith in the belief that customer’s valued quality and service. Despite criticism for what were deemed ‘unfashionable ideas’, A&N continued to see growth, and expanded into Sportswear and Equipment, positively extending the complete School Uniform ranges.
In 1980, A&N expanded into 77 George Street, its new departments including Women’s’ Fashions and Footwear and a Coffee Lounge! Throughout the 1980’s the company continued to thrive, and in 1991, the Barbour range of outdoor wear was introduced into the store. The 1990’s also saw A&N diversifying into other areas with the purchase in 1991 of the Fenwicks of Perth department store, and in 1993, the Alan Mickel shoe shop at Clarkston Toll in Glasgow. Sadly the Alan Mickel Shoe store had to be closed in 2004.
After 32 successful years as Managing Director of Aitken &Niven, Derek Ferguson handed over the position in August 1996, to his son David (whose brother, Richard had already been made a Director in 1994).
The store continues to evolve keeping up with today’s fast moving retail environment, specialising and expanding its School Uniform, Sports, Corporate, Shoe and Fashion businesses. In 2001 Aitken&Niven opened a new flagship store, warehouse and offices in Morningside, Edinburgh and completed a move out of its George Street premises in 2005.
Online since 1996 our website www.aitken-niven.com has gone through its 6th change in 2011/12 to enhance the online retail experience for our customers.
‘Andiamo‘ our women’s fashion boutique opened in 2005.
We opened a new School Uniform store in Blackhall, Edinburgh in August 2004 and in 2008 in Bridge Street, Aberdeen. This increases our number of stores to 6, including the website www.aitken-niven.com
Aitken&Niven’s corporate business under the guidance of Douglas Ewen, who joined our company in 2003, takes our school uniform, sports and corporate trade direct to clubs, businesses, schools and associations.
Today, this family-owned business continues to provide its customers with a unique and professional service in School Uniform, Sports, Corporate, Women’s Fashion, Footwear and Accessories.
Quality in the making since 1905.