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Birthplace of ecommerce up for grabs in Wales


The Royal Welsh Warehouse, a well-known and imposing building in Newtown, Powys, is to be sold, with a guide price of £750,000.
Built to house the world’s first-ever mail order business, also called the Royal Welsh Warehouse, it was opened in 1879. The business was set up by Welsh entrepreneur, and later Conservative member of Parliament, Pryce Pryce-Jones, who was knighted in 1887.

Although Pryce-Jones’s business was eventually swallowed up by the Lewis’s firm, the imposing Royal Welsh Warehouse building itself went on to become home to Great Universal Stores and Shop Direct, who vacated the premises in 2011. At that point, the warehouse was used by a local church.

The Pryce-Jones mail order empire had around 4,000 staff and 250,000 customers at its peak, among them Florence Nightingale and Queen Victoria. It shipped products as far away as Australia, and is credited with having prompted the Royal Mail into developing the parcel post service. It also produced the first-ever mail order catalogue.

From these far-from-humble origins, came the mail order industry, which in turn evolved into the ecommerce retail sector. Although there are more points of difference than it is easy to count, the basic premise of e-tail and delivery is one that would have been immediately familiar to Pryce-Jones.

The Royal Welsh Warehouse undergone a £1m refurbishment, and offers 80,500 sq ft (74799m²) of retail space, along with parking for 60 cars.

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