As Season II gets underway, five glorious years have passed since the opening of Selfridge & Co. Commerce has thrived and so has Harry Selfridge’s love life, leading to public humiliation and estrangement from his wife, Rose, who has returned to America.
Meanwhile, savvy shopgirl Agnes Towler has been in Pars for two years, learning display design so that she can tackle the job held by her former lover, Henri Leclair, who has decamped for J. Walter Thompson in New York. Two other lovers have also parted ways: Mr. Grove, head of personnel, has jilted his longtime mistress Josie Mardell to marry Josie’s assistant in accessories, Doris, who in due course becomes the mother of three daughters.
The store’s fifth anniversary falls in 1914, just in time to celebrate before the cataclysm of World War I descends on Europe—although, of course, no one knows what’s coming.
Amid the anniversary hoopla, the staff organizes a surprise party for Harry. Rose attends, just off the boat from America. She is far from reconciled with Harry and intends to keep him at arm’s length. Agnes also appears, back from Paris and ready to take over as head of display—to the consternation of Mr. Thackeray, the supercilious new head of fashion, who resents Agnes’s sex and unpolished origins.
After the party, Rose introduces Harry to a friend she made on the voyage over, Delphine Day, a free spirit who has just published a memoir about her libertine life. This bohemian lady also runs a fashionably dissolute London nightclub called Delphine’s, and she takes an intense interest in Harry. Soon she contrives to have the store launch her book with a lavish set designed by Agnes.
Elsewhere in London, Lady Mae learns to her horror that her husband, who spends all of his time in the country, is moving into their town house for vague reasons that suggest severe financial reversals. Lord Loxley is a cruel and manipulative tyrant, who closes Mae’s account at Selfridges, refuses to pay her bill, and yet wants her to arrange a business meeting with the “shopkeeper”—Harry. He also blackmails a fellow member of the House of Lords to secure a lucrative spot on the military procurement committee, which is responsible for issuing contracts for supplies.
In other action, Agnes’s brother, George, is now head of the store’s shipping department and faces rabble-rousing union organizers. One of George’s best workers is Harry and Rose’s son, Gordon, a lad of fifteen who is eager to learn the family business.
Up on the store’s top floor, Victor has been promoted to manager of the Palm Court Restaurant, assisted by his cousin Franco. Victor’s romantic involvement with Agnes is virtually forgotten, and his attention has turned to Gabriella, the daughter of his Uncle Gio’s best friend.
Down on the ground floor, Kitty is now head of cosmetics and attracts the amorous overtures of ambitious reporter Frank Edwards. Over in accessories, Josie receives a telegram announcing her brother’s fatal illness abroad, and she immediately leaves to be with him. Up in Mr. Grove’s office, chaos reigns due to the turmoil of Grove’s home life with three young children plus another on the way. His work performance has crashed—and perhaps his career with it.
In a disquieting scene, Rose is visiting Delphine’s Club when she spots a down-and-out character who looks suspiciously like Henri. She traces him to his flat, where she learns it is indeed the dashing French designer returned from New York and fallen on hard times. But he won’t say why.
As war approaches, Harry throws a morale-boosting party at Delphine’s for his entire staff. There, Kitty does the tango with a real Argentine, and Grove gets blissfully drunk. Back at the store’s loading dock, Gordon has a fight with union men, while defending his father’s generosity to workers—which all the staff admit is the honest truth.