The department was first formed in 1970 with the merger of the Board of Trade and the Ministry of Technology, creating a new cabinet post of Secretary of State for Trade and Industry. The new department also took over the Department of Employment's former responsibilities for monopolies and mergers. In January of 1974, the department's responsibilities for energy production were transferred to a newly created Department of Energy. Later the same year, following a Labour Party victory in the general election, the department was split into Department of Trade, Department of Industry and the Department of Prices and Consumer Protection.
In 1983 the departments of Department of Trade and the Department of Industry were reunited.