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Karen Millen withdrawing concession from House of Fraser cutting the final ties with Maidstone where it was founded 30 years ago

21 January 2014
by Chris Price

A world-famous fashion label is about to cut the final thread with the town where it was founded 30 years ago.

Karen Millen opened her first self-titled store in Maidstone’s Royal Star Arcade in 1983 and watched the business flourish into a multi-million-pound brand with branches across the world.

This shop was closed in 2009 but fans could get their designer fashion fix just months later when a concession opened in House of Fraser in Fremlin Walk.

Fashion designer Karen Millen

Fashion designer Karen Millen

However, its history in Maidstone has now reportedly reached the end of its reel.

Bosses have told staff they are withdrawing from the town’s House of Fraser.

The closure will mark the end of an era for the global company and its founder’s hometown.

Maidstone was previously the base for the company’s head office, which was within the Power Hub building off St Peter’s Street, and an outlet for old collections and faulty items occupied a unit in the Broadway Shopping Centre for many years.

House of Fraiser, Fremlin Walk

House of Fraser, Fremlin Walk

Mother of three Miss Millen, a former student at Medway College of Art, now University College for the Creative Arts (UCCA), in Rochester, began her career making shirts.

She launched the label with former husband and business partner Kevin Stanford.

They sold the company in 2004 to Icelandic corporation Baugur in a £120 million deal.

The chain was then bought by the Mosaic Group before being taken over by Aurora Fashions.

Fashion designer Karen Millen

Fashion designer Karen Millen


Karen Millen is no longer listed as an associated brand on Aurora’s website.

Fashion house Esprit is also expected to move out of House of Fraser next month. 

A spokesman for Karen Millen said Maidstone was one of a small number of branches to shut and it would try to relocate all staff wherever possible.

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