Illums historieThe story

This is the story of ILLUM, the Copenhagen-based department store that, since its foundation in 1891, has offered not only the finest in fashion and beauty but also the latest trends in interior design and decoration. This is a guide through its history, development and the exciting new changes.


ILLUM is founded by Anton Carl Illum, a businessman well known for his sharp eye for fashion and his ability to take action with innovative, outside-the-box thinking.

He predicts the consequences of industrialization, increased employment and the growing demand for luxury and high-quality products.


ILLUM grows steadily over the years and in 1899, Anton Illum purchases the property on the opposite side of the street. The first department store in Copenhagen now becomes a reality.


Anton Illum is in many ways groundbreaking. Famous for his modern leadership skills, offering staff benefits and having satisfied employees, every morning staff would gather for a meeting and singalong in the middle of ILLUM.


Anton Illum passes away, and his family takes ownership.


The 40’s are affected by the German “peace occupation”, which puts Danish society in an economically difficult position. Despite goods shortages and the economic situation, Svend Illum keeps the business going in the same spirit as his father and ILLUM continues to sustain positive growth.

1960’s og 70’s

In order to tempt customers back to the center of Copenhagen, ILLUM builds a car park in the mid 60’s and begins a larger process of re-construction.


During the re-construction ILLUM also builds a new facade. The facade that today still stands, is clearly influenced by the so-called “casemate-architechture” with its concrete and raw expression.

Despite the face lift, in 1972, ILLUM is sold to the British department store group, House of Fraser, after 81 years of family ownership.


ILLUM is bought by Th. Wessel & Wett.


Merrill Lynch buys into ILLUM with Th. Wessel & Wett as co-owner.


Illum is bought by the Icelandic investors, I-Holding (later M-holding).


After a tumultuous period with many different owners, the store is purchased by the investment firm, Solstra Investments A/S.


In 2011, ILLUM celebrates its 120-year anniversary.


ILLUM is bought by the Italian department store La Rinascente bringing with it more than 150 years of experience operating department stores and like ILLUM, offers the best in fashion, accessories, beauty, interior and decor, design and gastronomic delicatessens.

La Rinascente’s aim is to continue progressive growth by investing in infrastructure, people, brands and service.