The H.Samuel story began in 1862 when Harriet Samuel took over her father-in-law's clock-making business in Liverpool. Harriet renamed the business H.Samuel, moved the business to Manchester's Market Street where she ran the company as a mail order business.
Harriet’s son developed the retail side of the business, and the first H.Samuel retail store opened in Preston in 1890, closely followed by branches in Rochdale and throughout Lancashire. To accommodate the growing business, the company moved to large headquarters in Birmingham’s jewellery quarter in 1912.
After the war, Harriet's grandsons Gilbert and Robert took over as Chairman and Vice Chairman. In 1948, the company was successfully floated on the Stock Exchange.
Gilbert was awarded a CBE for political and public services, became a Queen's Sheriff for the City of London and was elected Master of the Clockmakers Company. Meanwhile, the number of H.Samuel stores rose to over 200 nationwide.
After the brothers' deaths in the late 1970s, Robert's son took over as Chairman. In 1984 he led an acquisition of the James Walker Group, which doubled the company's presence in the UK. A merge with the Ratner Group in the late 1980s took the company to its largest number of stores, before the group underwent another restructure in the early 1990s. It is then that the group changed name to The Signet Group.