Sir Hugh Fraser

1936 - 1987

Businessman. Born in Bearsden, and schooled in Melrose and at Kelvinside Academy (Glasgow), Fraser was destined to join the family business. By 1966, when he took over the House of Fraser empire from his father, Lord Fraser of Allander (1903-66), the department store was going out of vogue and he inherited surplus capacity in many towns. Fraser became involved in many other ventures, through his Scottish and Universal Investments (SUITS) holding company. He was Chairman of the House of Fraser (1966-81), Binns (1966-76), Harrods (1966-76), George Outram and the whisky producers White and Mackay (from 1973). He bought Dumbarton Football Club in 1985. By the time of his death, he was a director of more than 15 companies across the retailing, clothing, textiles and food sectors. However, he was convicted of improper financial dealings involving SUITS yet, following difficulties with the Monopolies and Mergers Commission and a protracted battle with the Lonrho conglomerate, he was able to sell House of Fraser to the Al Fayed brothers for £615 million in 1985.

Fraser lived on the family estate at Mugdock (Stirling) which he gifted as a country park in 1981. He relinquished his father's peerage, but succeeded to his baronetcy, although this expired on Fraser's death as he had no male heirs.

Fraser received an honorary doctorate from the University of Stirling. He set up the Hugh Fraser Foundation in 1960 which purchased the island of Iona from the Duke of Argyll when the Duke came upon hard times. In 1979, the foundation gave the island to the National Trust for Scotland in memory of Fraser's father. The foundation has subsequently given more the £50 million to good causes in Scotland.

A heavy smoker, Fraser died of cancer aged only fifty, survived by three daughters. He lies buried in Kilmaronock churchyard at Gartocharn (West Dunbartonshire), next to his parents and sister.

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