About Us


John Sanders - Ruislip

We are an independent department store with a history spanning over 100 years. Our longevity is due to the way we respond to the needs of our customers, our different product offering and our focus on serving our community. 

As members of A.I.S and Play-Room buying group, we pride ourselves on being able to source a great variety of different products that are high in quality and great in price. 

Our ground floor is home to Ladies Fashions and Accessories; Lingerie, Nightwear and Hosiery; Haberdashery and Wool and our Baby Shop with clothing, gifts and toys up to 36 months. Our First Floor houses our Linens, Homewares and Toy departments with the final stop being our Coffee Shop for a much deserved rest!

Our History


1842 - Where it all began

John Sanders was born in Devonshire, in 1842, and grew up on a farm near the village of Pyworthy.  At the age of 13, he left the home farm to become an apprentice draper to Mr Bickle who had a drapery store in St. Leonards on Sea.

At the age of 23, ten years later, Mr Sanders decided to move to Ealing where he bought his first shop from a Mrs Elizabeth Henderson, the mother of Lord Farrington. This shop was situated in Ealing Broadway on the corner of the Uxbridge Road and Lancaster Road.

Mr Sanders realised that the opening of the Great Western Railway 20 years earlier, had made the little village of Ealing more accessible to London and that in time it would be an important link between the city and the west. 

 As time went on, Ealing soon began to rise from a country village to a populous suburb. The signs of development favourably affected Mr Sanders’ business and he started to be well-known as a hard working local entrepreneur. 




Originally a draper, Mr Sanders extended the business in a number of areas to include hosiery, millinery, furnishings and even family funeral services! By 1890, Mr Sanders had gradually acquired shop after shop adjacent to one another in Ealing Broadway and thus the department store John Sanders became a leading store in West London. 



John Sanders was a popular man in Ealing. He bought the first horseless car to the town and allowed the public to ride on payment of one shilling, which was then donated to a nearby hospital. Mr Sanders was reported to have said at the time; 

“Proceeds would have been greater if absent-minded passengers had not inserted into the fare box pennies and other modest coins of the realm!”

In 1925, Mr Sanders retired at the age of 83 and he sold his business to the Rowse brothers, Frank Howard (a draper in Ealing), Reginald Montague (a manufacturer), Archibald Albert (a farmer) and William Henry (a furnisher). They already owned FH Rowse department store in West Ealing and saw the potential of the additional trade in the Broadway. In 1932, they refurbished the units and made them into one store.

On the 11th October 1933, Mr John Sanders died at the age of 91. Long-serving employees remembered him as a remarkable man. A memorial service was held at St. Andrews Church in Ealing and he was buried in his native Devon Village 



In 1944, the John Sanders furniture showroom (now a Tesco Metro) received a direct hit that affected three floors. Likewise, a land mine dropped on the nearby Railway Tavern and the blast severely damaged the southern corner of John Sanders. 

The war delayed rebuilding until 1958 and the work was not completed until 1965 when the store celebrated one hundred years of trading.



The new look store was unveiled and 270 employees celebrated with the company hosting a buffet meal and theatre evening. 

Customers were also treated to a three-week sale and a chance to grab a fantastic bargain



Between 1955 and 1995 the BBC owned Ealing Studios, a television and film production company at Ealing Green just down the road from our John Sanders store. In the 1970’s the Studios played an important role in producing many of the popular programmes we know and love.

We were approached in 1969 and asked if we would be willing to be the location for a Dr Who scene. Our five minutes of fame can be seen in the 1970 screened episode “Spearhead From Space” where the Autons can be seen breaking through our shop window and beginning their rampage! 

The episode can still be viewed today on YouTube



 In The 1980’s, Ealing Council decided they wanted to build a new Shopping Centre to make the area the prime location for shopping in West London. Wasteland behind our store was earmarked as the perfect location for the development so with this opportunity, the retail focus was shifted to John Sanders Ealing. In order to finance a redevelopment of John Sanders, our sister store, FH Rowse in West Ealing was closed and the land sold.

The funds from the sale were invested in expanding John Sanders to include an additional unit within the new shopping centre which would link the current larger shop with the new development. The store also received a new modern look to take us into this new era.



In 1985, the new Ealing Broadway shopping centre and John Sanders were ready for re-launch and received the ultimate approval – a visit from Queen Elizabeth. 

Her Majesty opened the new centre on 7th March 1985



In late 1985, one of the Directors of John Sanders, Richard Rowse was given the opportunity to purchase two further established independent department stores; Pettits in Wallingford, Oxfordshire and Lyttons in Ruislip, West London. Both were acquired and traded seamlessly with the Lyttons trading name being changed to John Sanders.

In Ealing, whilst the new Broadway Shopping Centre was attracting new trade, as the 1980’s drew to a close the owners found that their return on their investment did not meet expectations. Difficult decisions needed to be made.

In 1990, an offer came from Marks and Spencer for the freehold of the Ealing store and the Directors opted to sell. The Ealing branch of John Sanders was closed and key personnel moved the Ruislip store. Focus then switched on turning Lyttons into the new and improved John Sanders Department Store. 



In Ruislip, John Sanders was changing. The product offering had to be reviewed and it was decided that furniture would no longer be offered but new products such as Housewares and Toys would be introduced instead.

In 1994 a change to the management team was made and our current Director David Fynn and former buyer Mary Grogan, took over the running of the store. The development of the toy department proved to be a great success and a new childrenswear department was launched to compliment the toys.



In 1997, our display manager Leisl Grieveson won a competition for the best dressed Toy window – the prize…………..

A visit to the store from the number one England goalkeeper David Seaman!  The High Street had never seen a queue like it.

In 1999 the freehold for the store was offered for sale and we purchased it to secure our future in Ruislip.



The millennium bought about many changes to the company. The Internet was booming and a decision was made to be a part of the new trend for online shopping. The John Sanders name was known locally but not nationally, so a decision was made to launch a new online toy shop as www.toys-uk.co.uk

With the demise of Woolworths, a gap in the market for selling toys became available and the management at John Sanders decided to expand by opening stand-alone toy shops. Our first Toys-UK shop opened in June 2009 in Didcot, Oxfordshire heralding another exciting chapter in our company history. This was followed by store openings in Aylesbury, Hemel Hempstead in 2010 and High Wycombe in 2011.