The Martin Pollins Blog

History, economics, business, politics…and Sussex

The History of  Supermarkets

The original Piggly Wiggly Store, Memphis, Tennessee, 1918, Clarence Saunders, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons:

This Little Piggy went to Market…

On 6th September 1916, a store called Piggly Wiggly opened at 79 Jefferson Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee, USA. It revolutionised shopping.  You probably weren’t there then, so let me fill in some gaps.

Piggly Wiggly was the first true self-service grocery store the world had known. It spawned various familiar supermarket concepts such as checkout stands, individual item price marking and shopping carts. It was the brainchild of Clarence Saunders, who took out a patent in 1917 on the concept of the “self-serving store”. Saunders issued franchises to hundreds of grocery retailers for the operation of Piggly Wiggly® stores. Constructed to Saunders’ rigid specifications, these franchised stores operated on a strict cash-only basis and maintained a high standard of quality and cleanliness.

The Name[1]

Piggly Wiggly’s introduction of self-service grocery shopping revolutionised the grocery industry; many of the conveniences and services that American shoppers now enjoy were brought to them first by Piggly Wiggly®.

Saunders’ reason for choosing the intriguing name Piggly Wiggly® remains a mystery; he was curiously reluctant to explain its origin. One story is that he saw from a train window several little pigs struggling to get under a fence, and the rhyming name occurred to him then. Another theory is derived from the nursery rhyme: This little piggy went to market… When asked why he had chosen such an unusual name for his organisation, Saunders replied: “So people will ask that very question.”

Picking up a basket while grocery shopping may seem second nature now, but the idea was once groundbreaking. And that was far from the only thing that changed when Piggly Wiggly, the first modern American supermarket, opened 106 years ago. At an old-style grocery, customers would pass a grocery list to a shop assistant, who would then put items together in one bag (free), but at Piggly Wiggly, it was the shoppers who chose products – and the products had to do the tempting.[2] The store revolutionised the grocery industry forever. Its impact is so significant that there’s even a commemorative plaque, which stands in Memphis today, marking its opening. The commemorative plaque describes in endearing detail how the new, groundbreaking form of shopping worked at the first Piggly Wiggly store.[3]

“Customers entered through a turnstile, filled their own baskets as they walked through a maze of shelves containing hundreds of products, and had their bills figured by clerks with adding machines. The opening of the store was also marked with a “brass band, beauty contest, flowers for the ladies and balloons for the children”.

Piggly Wiggly is notable for being the first true self-service grocery store and the originator of various familiar supermarket features[4] such as checkout stands, individual item price marking and shopping carts or trolleys. Today there are several hundred Piggly Wiggly stores serving communities across the US. All Piggly Wiggly stores are independently owned and operated and are located primarily throughout the Southeast and as far north as Wisconsin. Piggly Wiggly, LLC’s corporate headquarters are in Keene, New Hampshire and is an affiliate of C&S Wholesale Grocers.[5]

The First Full-Service Supermarket[6]

A replica of the original store has been constructed in the Memphis Pink Palace Museum and Planetarium, a mansion that Clarence Saunders built as his private residence, which was later sold to the city. At the time of its founding, grocery stores did not allow customers to gather their goods. Instead, a customer would give a list of items to a clerk, who would then collect them through the store, a process creating a greater cost and higher prices.

­­­Piggly Wiggly introduced the innovation of allowing customers to go through the store, gathering their goods, thus cutting costs and lowering prices. Losses due to easier shoplifting were more than offset by profits from increased impulse purchasing. Others were initially experimenting with this format, which came to be known as a “groceteria”, reminding people of cafeterias, another relatively new, self-service idea at that time.[7]

Piggly Wiggly secured the self-service format and issued franchises to hundreds of grocery retailers to operate its stores. The concept of the “self-serving store” was patented[8] by Saunders in 1917. Customers at Piggly Wiggly entered the store through a turnstile and walked through four aisles to view the 605 items sold in packages and organised into departments. The customers selected merchandise as they continued through the maze to the cashier. Instantly, packaging and brand recognition became important to companies and consumers alike.[9]

The success of Piggly Wiggly was phenomenal, and other independent and chain grocery stores changed to self-service in the 1920s and 1930s. At its peak in 1932 (see Clarence Saunders), the company operated 2,660 stores and posted annual sales of over $180 million (nearly $4 billion in today’s values).

The Predecessor of the Modern Supermarket

The Astor Market was an indoor public market built in 1915 at 95th Street and Broadway on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, New York City. It was financed by Vincent Astor with between $750,000 and $1,000,000.[10] Vincent Astor wanted to provide fresh produce at lower prices for the people of Manhattan. Perhaps it was before its time, but the market closed in 1917 and was later demolished.

At the time of the market’s demise, one published account summarised the causes of its failure as follows:

Laudable as were the motives of the would-be reformer, the Astor Market, like other similar experiments, failed because its founder failed to consider the whims of human nature. One can count on his fingers the number of grocery and produce stores which have succeeded in attracting trade from any considerable distance to purchase staple articles of food. People will come into the shopping district to compare values on rugs, furniture and dresses, but not on oranges, bread and fish. This is an age in which convenience and service are as vital to the grocer’s success as good merchandise and an attractive store. Most people, on account of service and convenience, prefer to buy at the neighborhood corner grocery, with the result that in this country there is one grocery store for every 400 people.’

What is a Supermarket?

A supermarket is a self-service shop offering a wide variety of food, beverages,
and household products, organised into sections. A supermarket is larger and has a wider selection than earlier grocery stores but is smaller and more limited in the range of merchandise than a hypermarket. In everyday US usage, however, “grocery store” is synonymous with supermarket and is not used to refer to other types of stores that sell groceries.

The modern supermarket typically has places for fresh meat, fresh produce, dairy,
delicatessen items, baked goods, etc. Shelf space is also reserved for canned and packaged goods and various non-food items such as kitchenware, household cleaners, pharmacy products and pet supplies. Some supermarkets also sell other household products that are consumed regularly, such as alcohol (where permitted), medicine, and clothing, and some sell a much wider range of non-food products: DVDs, sporting equipment, board games, and seasonal items (e.g., Christmas wrapping paper in December and Easter Eggs before Easter).

A larger full-service supermarket combined with a department store is sometimes known as a hypermarket. Other services may include banks, cafés, childcare centres/creches, insurance (and other financial services), mobile phone services, photo processing, video rentals, pharmacies, and petrol. If the eatery in a supermarket is substantial enough, the facility may be called a “grocerant”, a blend of “grocery” and “restaurant”.[11]  The traditional supermarket occupies a large amount of floor space, usually on a single level. It is generally situated near a residential area to be convenient to consumers. The basic appeal is the availability of a broad selection of goods under a single roof at relatively low prices. Other advantages include ease of parking and frequently the convenience of shopping hours that extend into the evening or even 24 hours of the day. Supermarkets usually allocate large budgets to advertising, typically through newspapers. They often also present elaborate in-shop displays of products.

Supermarkets typically are chain stores supplied by the distribution centres of their
parent companies, thereby increasing opportunities for economies of scale. Supermarkets usually offer relatively low prices by using their buying power to buy goods from manufacturers at lower prices than smaller stores can. They also minimise financing costs by paying for goods at least 30 days after receipt, and some extract credit terms of 90 days or more from vendors. Certain products (typically staple foods such as bread, milk and sugar) are occasionally sold as loss leaders to attract shoppers to their stores. Supermarkets make up for their low retail margins with a high sales volume and higher-margin items bought by the attracted shoppers. Self-service with shopping carts (trolleys) or baskets reduces labour costs, and many supermarket chains are achieving further reductions by shifting to self-service checkout.[12]

The Evolution of Supermarkets over the years

On 1st October 2014, Sarah Butler wrote an interesting article on supermarkets and how they are big businesses undergoing big changes in the internet age and in the time of discount stores.[13] Here’s a quick summary of the points she made:

  • Customers like to save money. German retail chains Aldi and Lidl – with prices substantially cheaper than the main chains on many basic items – now control a sizeable and growing chunk of the UK grocery market. The major supermarkets have cut or matched prices to keep customers.
  • Shoppers are deserting big edge-of-town stores, preferring to shop little, local and often. Consumers are less likely to plan their meals too far in advance, while Tesco and Sainsbury’s decision to open small local stores has helped upped standards, so there’s fresher, more attractive food available every day to buy at the corner shop.
  • All the major supermarkets are investing in home delivery or “click and collect” services. Online grocery sales are on the up and up. Even fashion sales – once a big profit centre for out-of-town grocers – are also shifting online.
  • Three-quarters or more of groceries are still bought in large supermarkets, but they’re in decline. Ms Butler says Tesco is bringing in other retailers, opening restaurants and soft play areas to fill unwanted space and has started mothballing unwanted stores.
  • Environmental concerns, watching the pennies and eating healthily have got Britons shopping more carefully – to cut down on waste and dietary control. The volume of food sold is declining as people consume fewer calories.
  • Ms Butler said food price rises were virtually zero. That was certainly the case before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but at the time of publication of this paper, price rises are spiralling.

Britain’s Supermarkets

Rather slow on the uptake, it took 32 years for Britain to follow Clarence Saunders’ lead. In January 1948, the London Co-op opened Britain’s first fully self-service store (allowing customers to serve themselves) in Manor Park, London.[14]  It was not branded as a supermarket at the time. Premier Supermarkets, a subsidiary of Express Dairies, opened the UK’s first supermarket in Streatham, South London, in 1951.[15]  Co-op Food opened Britain’s first fully self-service store in March 1948 in Albert Road, Southsea, near Portsmouth. With the arrival of self-service came the ‘stack ’em high, sell ’em cheap’[16]
approach to retailing, and prices fell. Many shops clinging to the old ways soon found themselves out of business. Premier Supermarkets was not among them and lost no time opening a self-service store in Streatham, South London, and sales rocketed. Marks & Spencer followed that same year in Wood Green, London.

In early 2017, Tesco announced a deal to merge with Booker, the UK’s largest wholesale food retailer[17], while fast-rising Aldi became the UK’s fifth biggest supermarket. Grocery sales in the UK are dominated by TescoAsda, Sainsbury’s, Aldi and Morrisons. Discounters Aldi and Lidl have increased their market share over recent years, while upscale grocer Waitrose‘s market share has also been rising. As of KANTAR data published on 5th March 2021, the market was dominated by Tesco, with Sainsbury’s being second, Asda third and Morrisons fourth. That all changed on 13th September 2022, when it was announced that Aldi had overtaken Morrisons and moved into fourth place[18]. Aldi and Lidl have been steadily stealing customers and growing their market share – driven by hundreds of new store openings. A list of supermarket chains operating in the UK is listed[19] below – click on the links provided for further information.

Supermarket Date founded or came to the UK Owned by
Aldi 1990 Aldi Süd GmbH
Amazon Fresh 2021 Amazon
Asda 1949 TDR Capital (50%), Zuber Issa (25%) and Mohsin Issa (25%)
B&M Express 2018 B&M
Booths 1847 Booth Family and staff
Budgens 1872 Booker Group[1], part of Tesco Plc
Co-op Food 1844 Various consumers’ co-operatives
Farmfoods 1955 UK private company
Fulton’s Foods 1974 Poundland
Heron Foods 1979 B&M
Iceland 1970 UK private company
Lidl 1994 Lidl Stiftung & Co. KG
Marks & Spencer 1884 Publicly traded on the London Stock Exchange
Morrisons 1899 Clayton, Dubilier & Rice[2]
Ocado 2002 Publicly traded on the London Stock Exchange
Proudfoot Supermarkets 1948 Family owned
Sainsbury’s 1869 Publicly traded on the London Stock Exchange
Tesco 1919 Publicly traded on the London Stock Exchange
Waitrose & Partners 1904 John Lewis Partnership

[1] Source: “Musgrave Group Agrees Sale of Budgens and Londis to Booker”. Musgrave Group.

[2] Source: “Morrisons ends 54-year run as a public company as CD&R takes control.”

Grocery market share in Great Britain 2017-2022[22]

Statistics, published by Emma Bedford on Statistica dated 4th August 2022, illustrate the market share of grocers in Great Britain monthly from January 2017 to June 2022. During the coronavirus outbreak Ocado, Symbols & Independents, The Co-op, Iceland, and other outlets managed to increase their market share the most. Asda was especially hard hit.

Tesco and Sainsbury’s had the largest share over the period under consideration, having 42.2% of the market together as of June 2022. Before the popularity of the discounters, the grocery retail market was dominated by the ‘big four’ supermarkets: Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, and Morrisons [as mentioned elsewhere in this paper, Morrisons were overtaken and lost fourth place to Aldi in September 2022].

Post-Brexit uncertainty and growing inflation have caused UK consumer behaviour to shift in favour of cheaper alternatives such as Aldi and Lidl. The resulting ‘price wars’
have led to supermarkets lowering (or matching) their prices. Crucially, this has caused increased volatility in the grocery retail market. After a period of intense competition, Lidl overtook Waitrose and went on to overtake Co-op for the first time at the end of 2020.

­­­History of the main Supermarkets operating in Britain in 2022[23]

Many UK supermarkets started their lives as much smaller shops or stalls with little thought that they would grow to the huge sizes we see today. Some supermarkets date back more than 100 years and have an extremely rich heritage where businesses were handed down to sons and daughters.


The story behind the early days of Asda starts with the Asquith family. W.R. Asquith ran a butcher’s shop in Knottingley, a town within the City of Wakefield in West Yorkshire. The shop prospered and eventually expanded to seven shops. Asquith’s two sons – Peter and Fred – were actively involved in the family business and later became co-founders of Asda.

At the same time, during the 1920s, a group of enterprising West Riding dairy farmers combined under the banner of Hindell’s Dairy Farmers Ltd. These included the Stockdale family and Arthur Stockdale in particular. After diversification and a series of acquisitions, a new public company was formed in 1949 – Associated Dairies & Farm Stores Ltd, with Arthur Stockdale as Managing Director.

During the 1950s and early 1960s, Associated Dairies expanded the number of its pork butchery shops (under the Farm Stores fascia) and created the Craven Dairies brand for its cake shops and cafes. The son of Arthur Stockdale, Noel (later to become Sir Noel Stockdale) met and established an immediate rapport with the Asquith brothers. He became the other co-founder of the future Asda in a meeting that would change how we shop forever.

In September 2022, in a three-part BBC Two series, the political editor of ITV News – Robert Peston – tells the story of shopping in Britain since the end of World War II. Using rarely seen archive film and interviews with the key players of British retail, Peston explores how shopping has changed and how it has changed us. In the first episode, called Seduction, he visits Nottingham, where Asda launched the first modern-style hypermarket in 1966. The shop in West Bridgford – dubbed “Britain’s first windowless store” – was a big hit with customers who appreciated the low prices and the convenience of buying all their groceries in one fell swoop.[25]


Sainsbury’s is the second largest chain of supermarkets in the United Kingdom. Founded in 1869 by John James Sainsbury with a shop in Drury Lane, London, the company was the largest UK retailer of groceries for most of the 20th century. In 1995, Tesco became the market leader when it overtook Sainsbury’s, which has since been ranked second or third: it was overtaken by Asda from 2003 to 2014 and again in 2019. In 2018, a planned merger with Asda was blocked by the Competition and Markets Authority over concerns of increased prices for consumers.[27]

The holding company, J Sainsbury plc, is split into three divisions: Sainsbury’s Supermarkets Ltd (including convenience shops), Sainsbury’s Bank, and Argos. As of 2021, the largest overall shareholder is the Sovereign wealth fund of Qatar, the Qatar Investment Authority, which holds 14.99% of the company. Sainsbury’s is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index.

In the beginning, Sainsbury’s was established as a partnership (in 1869)[28] when John James Sainsbury and his wife Mary Ann opened a shop at 173 Drury Lane in Covent Garden, London. Sainsbury started as a retailer of fresh foods and later expanded into packaged groceries such as tea and sugar. His trading philosophy, as stated on a sign outside his first shop, was: “Quality perfect, prices lower“.[29]  Shops started to look similar, so a high cast-iron ‘J. SAINSBURY’ sign featured on every London shop so that it could be recognised from a distance, and round-the-back deliveries started to add extra convenience and not upset rivals due to Sainsbury’s popularity.[30]

Groceries were introduced in 1903, when John James Sainsbury purchased a grocer’s branch at 12 Kingsland High Street, Dalston. Every shop offered home delivery, as there were fewer cars in those days. Sites were carefully chosen, with a central position in a parade selected in preference to a corner shop, allowing a larger display of products, which could be kept cooler in summer, which was important as there was no refrigeration then.[31]

When John James Sainsbury died in 1928, there were over 128 shops. He was replaced by his eldest son, John Benjamin Sainsbury, who had gone into partnership with his father in 1915.[32]  During the 1930s and 1940s, the company continued to refine its product offerings and maintain its leadership in terms of shop design, convenience, and cleanliness. The company acquired the Midlands-based Thoroughgood chain in 1936.

The founder’s grandsons, Alan Sainsbury (later Lord Sainsbury of Drury Lane) and Sir Robert Sainsbury became joint managing directors in 1938, after their father, John Benjamin Sainsbury, had a minor heart attack. During the Second World War, many male employees were called to perform National Service and replaced by women in the shops. The war was a difficult time for Sainsbury’s, as most of its shops were trading in the London area and were bombed or damaged. Turnover fell to half the pre-war level. Food was rationed, and one particular shop in East Grinstead in Sussex was so badly damaged on 9th July 1943 that it had to move temporarily to the local church while a new shop was built. This shop was not completed until 1951.[33]

In 1956, Alan Sainsbury became chairman after the death of his father, John Benjamin Sainsbury. During the 1950s and 1960s, Sainsbury’s was a keen early adopter of self-service supermarkets in the United Kingdom. On a trip to the United States, Alan Sainsbury realised the benefits of self-service shops and believed the future of Sainsbury’s was self-service supermarkets of 10,000 sq ft (930 m2), with eventually the bonus of a car park.[34] The first self-service branch opened in Croydon in 1950. Sainsbury’s was a pioneer in developing own-brand goods; the aim was to offer products that matched the quality of nationally branded goods but at a lower price. It expanded more cautiously than Tesco, shunning acquisitions and never provided trading stamps.[35]  Until the company went public on 12th July 1973, as J Sainsbury plc, the company was wholly owned by the Sainsbury family. At the time, it was the largest-ever flotation on the London Stock Exchange.[36] The Sainsbury family at the time retained 85% of the firm’s shares.

Sainsbury’s decline[37] started in 1992, following the retirement of long-time CEO John Davan Sainsbury. He was succeeded as chairman and chief executive by his cousin, David Sainsbury (later Lord Sainsbury of Turville), which brought about a change in management style. Mistakes by David Sainsbury and his successors, Dino Adriano and Peter Davis, included the rejection of loyalty cards, the reluctance to move into non-food retailing, the indecision between whether to go for quality or value, “the sometimes brutal treatment of suppliers”, which led to suppliers favouring Tesco over Sainsbury’s and the unsuccessful John Cleese advertising campaign. At the end of 1993, Sainsbury’s announced price cuts on 300 of its most popular own-label lines, ostensibly in response to the launch of the Tesco Value line. A few months later, Sainsbury’s announced margins had fallen, that the pace of new superstore construction would slow down, and that it would write down the value of some of its properties. It wasn’t finished with its belated copying of what Tesco was doing: in 1994, Sainsbury’s announced a new town-centre format, Sainsbury’s Central, again a response to Tesco’s Metro, which was already established in five locations. Also, in 1994, David Sainsbury dismissed Tesco’s Clubcard initiative as ‘an electronic version of Green Shield Stamps’, but Sainsbury’s was forced to backtrack, introducing its own Reward Card 18 months later.

For much of the 20th century, Sainsbury’s was the market leader in the UK supermarket sector, but in 1996 it lost its place as the UK’s largest grocer to Tesco.


Tesco started life in 1919 when Jack Cohen, the son of Jewish migrants from Poland, started selling surplus groceries from a market stall in the East End of London. Mr Cohen made a profit of £1 from sales of £4 on his first day. In 1924 the name ‘Tesco’ was formed. The name comes from the initials of TE Stockwell, who was a partner in the firm of tea suppliers, and CO from Jack’s surname. The first own-brand product sold, which Jack promised would bring unequaled value, was Tesco Tea before the company itself was called Tesco. The first Tesco shop opened in September 1931 at 54 Watling Street Burnt Oak, Edgware, Middlesex.[39]

Jack Cohen’s business motto was “pile it high and sell it cheap”, to which he added an internal motto of “YCDBSOYA” (You Can’t Do Business Sitting On Your Arse), which he used to motivate his sales force.

The business expanded rapidly, and by 1939, there were over 100 Tesco shops across the UK.[40]  Tesco was floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1947 and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index. The company started to expand the range of products it sold during the 1960s, including household goods and clothing under the Delamare brand, and in 1974 opened its first petrol station.[41]

Tesco has expanded globally since the early 1990s, with operations in 11 other countries in the world. The company pulled out of the US in 2013 but, as of 2018, continued to see growth elsewhere. Since the 1960s, Tesco has diversified into areas such as the retailing of books, clothing, electronics, furniture, toys, petrol, software, financial services, telecoms and internet services. In the 1990s, Tesco repositioned itself from being a downmarket high-volume, low-cost retailer, attempting to attract a range of social groups with its low-cost “Tesco Value” range (launched 1993)[42] and premium “Tesco Finest” range.

The first self-service shop opened in St Albans in 1956 (which remained operational until 2010 before relocating to larger premises on the same street, with a period as a Tesco Metro), and the first supermarket in Maldon, Essex in 1956[43]. In 1961, Tesco, Leicester appeared in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest shop in Europe.[44]

The company started to expand the range of products it sold during the 1960s to include household goods and clothing under the Delamare brand, and in 1974 opened its first petrol station.[45]

During the 1950s and 1960s, Tesco grew organically and also through acquisitions until it owned more than 800 shops[46]. The company purchased 70 Williamson’s shops (1957), 200 Harrow Stores outlets (1959), 212 Irwins shops (1960), 97 Charles Phillips shops (1964) and the Victor Value chain (1968) (later sold to Bejam in 1986).[47]

In May 1987, Tesco completed its hostile takeover of the Hillards chain of 40 supermarkets in the North of England for £220 million. In 1994, the company took over the supermarket chain William Low after fighting off Sainsbury’s for control of the Dundee-based firm, which operated 57 shops. This paved the way for Tesco to expand its presence in Scotland, where its presence was weaker than in England.[48]

In 1995, Tesco introduced a loyalty card, branded ‘Clubcard‘,[49] and later an Internet shopping service. In 1996, the logo’s typeface was changed to the current version with stripe reflections underneath, whilst the corporate font used for shop signage was changed from the familiar “typewriter” font that had been used since the 1970s. Overseas operations were introduced in the same year.[50] Terry Leahy assumed the role of Chief Executive on 21st February 1997, the appointment being previously announced on 21 November 1995.[51]

On 21st March 1997, Tesco announced the purchase of the retail arm of Associated British Foods, which consisted of the Quinnsworth, Stewarts and Crazy Prices chains in Ireland and Northern Ireland, and associated businesses, for £640 million[52], a deal that was approved by the European Commission on 6 May 1997.[53]

In July 2001, Tesco became involved in internet grocery retailing in the US when it obtained a 35% stake in GroceryWorks[54]. In 2002, Tesco purchased 13 HIT hypermarkets in Poland. It also made a major move into the UK’s convenience shop market by purchasing T & S Stores, owner of 870 convenience shops in the One Stop, Dillons and Day & Nite chains in the UK. In June 2003, Tesco purchased the C Two-Network in Japan. It also acquired a majority stake in the Turkish supermarket chain Kipa. In January 2004, Tesco acquired Adminstore, owner of 45 Cullens, Europa, and Harts convenience shops in and around London. In Thailand, Tesco Lotus was a joint venture of the Charoen Pokphand Group and Tesco, but facing criticism over the growth of hypermarkets, CP Group sold its Tesco Lotus shares in 2003. In late 2005 Tesco acquired the 21 remaining Safeway/BP shops after Morrisons dissolved the Safeway/BP partnership. In mid-2006, Tesco purchased an 80% stake in Casino’s Leader Price supermarkets in Poland, which were then rebranded as small Tesco shops.

On 9th February 2006, Tesco announced plans to move into the United States by opening a chain of small format groceries in the Western states (Arizona, California, and Nevada) in 2007 – named Fresh & Easy,[55] but in April 2013, it announced it was pulling out of the US market (Fresh & Easy Stores), at a reported cost of £1.2 billion.[56]

By 2011, Tesco was the third-largest retailer in the world measured by gross revenues[57] and the ninth-largest in the world measured by revenues. It has shops in Ireland, the United Kingdom, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia. It is the market leader in groceries in the UK.[58]

On 27th January 2017, it was announced that Tesco had agreed to merge with Britain’s biggest wholesaler Booker Group to create the UK’s largest food group. However, there were concerns over market dominance, with Tesco being Britain’s largest food retailer and Booker being the UK’s largest wholesaler[59]. In April 2017, the company confirmed it would sell its in-shop opticians’ business to Vision Express[60].

In June 2017, Tesco announced a major cost-cutting initiative to reduce the company’s workforce by over 1,200 workers. Key reductions included over a quarter of its employees in Welwyn Garden City and Hatfield and the call centre closure in Cardiff. The company hoped to reduce costs by £1.5 billion.[61]

­­­In January 2019, Tesco announced another cost-cutting initiative to close the food counters in 90 stores, affecting around 9,000 workers.[62] In 2022, the number of Tesco’s stores operating worldwide amounted to 4,752, including franchise stores. The current number of stores has been fairly constant since 2019 and is slightly down on the 2010 level (4836 stores) but is well down on the 2014 peak of 7,835 stores. A little more than 4000 of all current stores are in the UK, where Tesco provides six different store formats to their customers, varying in size and range of products. Tesco Superstores, for example, are standard large supermarkets that sell mostly food products and a much smaller range of non-food products than Extra stores.[63]


Waitrose & Partners first appeared on the high street in 1904 when Wallace Wyndham Waite, Arthur Rose and David Taylor opened their shop in Acton. After two years, Taylor left the business leaving Waite and Rose who formed Waitrose Ltd in 1908. The company continued to develop after Rose left in 1924, and the chain grew to include branches from Windsor to Gerrards Cross. The next major change in the fortunes of Waitrose & Partners was the result of the move to self-service shopping in the early 1950s. It was acquired in 1937 by employee-owned retailer John Lewis Partnership, which still sells groceries under the brand. Its head offices are located in Bracknell and Victoria, England.[64]

The first shops to become self-service were Schofield & Martin, a small chain of grocery shops based around Southend. In 1955, Waitrose & Partners opened its first supermarket in Streatham with 2,500 square feet of selling space. By the early 1970s, there were 50 branches, some remaining as small self-service shops but more and more larger supermarkets. This led to the construction of a new distribution centre at Bracknell enabling the business to grow faster. By 2004, the retail food division had expanded to more than 200 shops including the acquisition of branches from other chains such as Morrisons and Somerfield.

Waitrose & Partners has 332 shops across the UK[65] (including 65 “little Waitrose” convenience shops), with around a 5% share of the grocery market, making the company the twelfth-largest retailer of groceries in the UK.[66] They also export products to 52 countries and have locations in the Middle East.[67]

The chain has been described by The Daily Telegraph and The Guardian as having an “upmarket” reputation, although former managing director Mark Price suggested prices are competitive to Tesco, a mid-market chain.[68] The company also had a royal warrant to supply groceries, wine, and spirits to Queen Elizabeth II and King Charles III.[69]

In 1983, Waitrose became the first major supermarket chain to sell organic food, and within five years, it had an 18% share of the organic food market. In September 2009, Duchy Originals, the struggling organic food business started by King Charles III, was rescued by Waitrose, which agreed to an exclusive deal to stock the range.

Internationally, Waitrose holds a licensing agreement with Spinneys of Dubai, United Arab Emirates, which operates two purpose-built branches, of which the first opened in the Dubai Mall in October 2008.[70]

Announcing its foray into the convenience sector in July 2008,[71]Waitrose opened its first convenience shop in Nottingham in December of that year[72]. In September 2009, it was announced that a large-scale roll-out of the concept was planned, opening up to 300 shops in five to ten years. The new arm will operate in a two-tier environment, with most sites expected to trade from 2,500 to 3,000 sq ft and some trading from a larger 5,000–7,000 sq ft floor plate. Shell operates around 35 Little Waitrose stores at selected petrol stations owned by Shell in the UK.  In May 2009, Waitrose started a franchise deal with the motorway service station operator Welcome Break.[73]

In April 2000, the online food retailer Ocado was launched, with the Ocado service only available in certain areas of Britain. John Lewis Partnership came on Board as a principal supplier and part owner in October 2000 (until February 2011), although the relationship between the two began formally in January 2002. In August 2020, Waitrose announced they would cease operations with Ocado, which ended on 1st September 2020. Ocado now partners with Waitrose’s rival store Marks & Spencer.[74]

Waitrose operates its own delivery service, (previously WaitroseDeliver). Waitrose became the first supermarket to abolish all delivery charges as of May 2009.[75]

In October 2011, Waitrose opened a “Dotcom Fulfilment Centre” in Acton, West London, less than two miles from its original shop. The shop employs over 200 Partners and provides Waitrose internet food deliveries for most of west and central London from a dedicated site. The shop, whilst not open to the public, is laid out much like a regular shop and even offers service counter lines, much like a normal Waitrose supermarket.[76]

In March 2020, Waitrose announced that it was to add its online delivery service to 24 more of its stores across the UK in preparation for its split with Ocado in September 2020.[77]

Waitrose had an 18% (organic food) and 10% (fish) market share during 2008.[78] As of 2016, it had a 5.3% share of the total market, but by June 2022, its share had shrunk to 4.9%.[79] Four convenience shops and one supermarket in the UK were closed in 2018,[80] followed by the announcement of 12 further store closures in 2019.[81] In September 2020, a further four stores were announced as closing.[82]


The company was founded by William Morrison in 1899, who started the business as an
egg and butter merchant in Rawson Market, Bradford, operating under the name of Wm Morrison Limited. The founder’s son, Ken Morrison, took over the company in 1952, aged only 21. In 1958, Morrisons opened a small shop in the city centre.

The first Morrisons shop opened with three checkouts and was the only store in Bradford to offer self-service and to have prices on its products. The Morrisons website says they are proud to be a Yorkshire food retailer serving customers across the UK through their network of 497 (2021) conveniently located supermarkets (and one in Gibraltar) together with various online home delivery channels.

The business is predominantly food and grocery-focused. The company uniquely sources and processes half of the fresh food they sell in their own manufacturing facilities and stores, giving close control over provenance and quality. They claim that their committed and professionally-trained food-makers and shopkeepers prepare food in-store for customers and have more skilled colleagues preparing food in-store than any other retailer.

Until 2004, Morrisons store locations were primarily focused in the North of England, but with the takeover of Safeway in that year for £3 billion, the company’s presence increased significantly in the South of England, Wales and Scotland. The programme of store conversions from Safeway to Morrisons was the largest of its kind in British retail history, focusing initially on the retained stores, which were freehold, over 25,000 sq ft (2,300 m2), and had separate car parks. Within a few weeks, Safeway carrier bags were replaced by those of Morrisons and Morrisons own-brand products began to appear in Safeway stores.[84]  Originally, 52 shops were to be compulsorily divested after the takeover. Two closed for other reasons, the John Lewis Partnership purchased 19 to be part of its Waitrose chain[85], J Sainsbury plc purchased a further 14,[86] and Tesco bought 10 in October 2004[87]. At the time, Morrisons chose not to move into the convenience store sector (although it has since done so with its M Local stores). Further to this policy decision, it was announced in late 2004 that the 114 smaller ‘Safeway Compact’ stores would be sold off to rival supermarket chain Somerfield in a two-part deal worth a total of £260.2 million.[88] In Northern Ireland, Morrisons sold the Safeway stores (and a store in Bangor that opened after the Morrisons takeover) to Asda.[89]

In May 2005, Morrisons announced the closure of Safeway’s joint venture convenience store/petrol station format with BP. Under the deal, the premises had been split 50/50 between the two companies.[90] Morrisons also sold Safeway’s Channel Islands stores to CI Traders, and the stores continued to trade as Safeway, although the products they sold carried the brand names of chains such as Iceland.[91] On the Isle of Man, the Douglas store was sold to Shoprite and the Ramsey store was sold to The Co-operative Food.[92] The Gibraltar store was originally marketed for sale but was ultimately converted, and in November 2006, plans were submitted for the extension and redevelopment of the store to introduce the full Morrisons format.[93]

In September 2005, the company announced the closure of former Safeway depots in Kent, Bristol and Warrington with the loss of 2,500 jobs.[94]  Following the acquisition of Safeway, Morrisons encountered several difficulties. The company had issued five profit warnings since the acquisition, and it was felt that the original Morrisons northern format did not work as well in some of the former Safeway stores in the south. To reinvigorate its new national image, Morrisons appointed the Dutchman Marc Bolland (the chief operating officer of Heineken) as its new Chief Executive.[95] On 13th March 2008, Sir Ken Morrison retired as chairman after 55 years at the company and was made Honorary President.[96]

The years 2010 to 2021 were eventful, as you can see below, and culminated in the sale of Morrisons to a private equity firm:

  • Following Marc Bolland’s departure to become the CEO of Marks & Spencer in December 2009, Dalton Philips was appointed as his replacement in January 2010.[97]
  • In 2010, Morrisons signed a deal with budget retailer Peacocks – the first concession store opened as part of a refurbishment at the retailer’s store in Idle, Bradford.[98] The Peacocks section was rolled out into other stores before launching its own childrenswear brand ‘Nutmeg’ into 85 stores on 21 March 2013.[99]
  • The first Morrisons M local store opened in Ilkley, Yorkshire, in 2011. All M Local stores were rebranded later under the short-lived “My Local” chain in 2015.[100]
  • In May 2013, Morrisons announced a partnership with Ocado to use Ocado’s technology systems and distribution infrastructure to help launch its online service.[101]
  • In February 2014, it emerged that younger members of the founding Morrison family, who owned 10% of the company, had approached several private equity firms about taking the company private. They were said to be extremely unhappy about the company’s disastrous financial performance and the corporate strategy being undertaken by Dalton Philips.[102]
  • Following a new three-year corporate strategy revealed in March 2014 aimed at recovering sales and market share, at Morrisons Annual General Meeting in June 2014, Morrisons former chairman Sir Ken Morrison blasted Dalton Philips and his new Board of directors for “destroying the company he [Sir Ken] inherited from his father”. Morrison’s comments were backed up by his nephew Chris Blundell, who controlled most of the remaining family stake in the supermarket, who also told the Board it needed rescuing and welcomed the decision by chairman Sir Ian Gibson to leave the business in June 2015, after months of pressure.[103]
  • In June 2014, Morrisons announced that plans had been put in place to cut 2,600 jobs as a result of changes to its management structure.[104] Morrisons stated that it had trialled the new structure and believed that better performance was achieved via these methods. These cuts would primarily affect department manager and supervisory positions. Morrisons would create 1,000 jobs in Morrisons M local convenience stores and 3,000 in new supermarkets. Following this, Morrisons sold its distribution centre in Kent to a real estate investment company for £97.8 million. The depot in Kemsley was to be immediately rented back to the supermarket chain on a 25-year lease.[105]
  • Following a 3.1% drop in like-for-like sales in the Christmas 2014 trading period, Sir Ian Gibson stood down six months early and was replaced by former Tesco chief financial officer Andrew Higginson at the end of January 2015. On 25 February 2015, Morrisons named former Tesco director David Potts as its new chief executive. Dalton Philips and five additional executives also left the company in March 2015.[106]
  • Morrisons also announced the closure of ten small loss-making stores (eight former Netto UK stores and two former Somerfield stores, bought under Philips’s leadership) in Cramlington, Accrington, Ravensthorpe, Bransholme (Hull), Telford, West Bromwich, Wallasey (Seacombe), Newton le Willows, Rugby and Crawley. In addition, six unprofitable convenience stores would close, and the roll-out of the convenience store chain would be slowed, as a batch of 40 sites would no longer be bought.[107] In June 2015, Morrisons cut the price of 200 ‘everyday items’ by up to 33%.[108] Like-for-like sales had fallen by 2.9% in the first three months of 2015—after falling 2.6% in the last three months of the previous year. The company responded by deciding to ‘simplify’ its head office in Bradford—at the cost of 720 jobs.[109]
  • In September 2015, Morrisons announced the sale of its 140 M Local stores to Mike Greene and Greybull Capital, to be rebranded My Local, for £25 million and planned to close 11 supermarkets, costing a reported 900 jobs. Consequently, in January 2016, they announced that a further seven stores would be closing to help optimise their existing assets and address areas of underperformance.
  • From March 2020, the company aimed to cut 3,000 management roles and create 7,000 shop floor jobs as part of its restructuring plan.[110]
  • In June 2021, Morrisons rejected a £5.5 billion takeover bid from private equity firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice, believing it “significantly undervalued” the company. After much activity with other bid and counter bids, on 19th August 2021, an improved offer of £7 billion from Clayton, Dubilier & Rice was recommended by the Board of Morrisons to shareholdersand on 2nd October 2021, it was announced that Clayton, Dubilier & Rice had won the auction to acquire Morrisons. The High Court approved the takeover on 26th October 2021.[111]
  • In May 2022, Morrisons purchased McColl’s in a pre-packaged insolvency arrangement with its administrator. [112]

In September 2022, Morrisons was overtaken by Aldi in the UK biggest supermarket list. But maybe, they’ll be fighting back. It has announced plans to open “thousands” of new Morrisons Daily stores across the UK and is on track to open its 500th site across the UK and Channel Islands by 2023.[113]


It all started in 1932 when Josef Schwarz became a partner in Südfrüchte Großhandlung Lidl & Co., a fruit wholesaler, and he developed the company into a general food 
wholesaler. In 1977, under his son Dieter Schwarz, the Schwarz-Gruppe began to focus on discount markets, larger supermarkets, and cash and carry wholesale markets. He did not want to use the name Schwarz-Markt (Schwarzmarkt means “black market”) but rather use the name of Josef Schwarz’s former business partner, A. Lidl. However, legal reasons prevented him from taking over the name for his discount stores. When he discovered a newspaper article about the painter and retired schoolteacher Ludwig Lidl, he bought the rights to the name from him for 1,000 German marks.

The first Lidl discount store was opened in 1973, largely copying the Aldi concept.[115] Schwarz rigorously removed merchandise that did not sell from the shelves and cut costs by keeping the size of the retail outlets as small as possible. By 1977, the Lidl chain comprised 33 discount stores. The first Lidl store in the UK opened its doors in 1994, and they now have more than 800 stores and 13 regional distribution centers across Britain, employing over 23,000 people.

Lidl (full name, Lidl Stiftung & Co. KG)is a German international discount-retailer chain[116] that operates over 11,000 stores across Europe and the United States.[117] Headquartered in Neckarsulm, Baden-Württemberg, Germany, the company belongs to the Schwarz Group, which also operates the hypermarket chain Kaufland. The Schwarz Group is the fifth-largest retailer in the world, with sales of €104.3 billion (2018).[118]

Lidl is the main competitor of the similar German discount chain Aldi in several markets.[119] Lidl stores exist in every European Union member state and Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States. Lidl had planned to open its first store in Ukraine, but due to the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, there has been no progress.

A year after opening its first store on the continent, Lidl opened its first UK store.[120] Its grocery market share in the UK was 5.9% in 2019.[121]

Sven Seidel was appointed CEO of the company in March 2014, after the previous CEO, Karl-Heinz Holland, stepped down. Holland had served as chief executive since 2008 but left due to undisclosed “unbridgeable” differences over future strategy. Seidel stepped down from his position in February 2017 after Manager Magazin reported he had fallen out of favour with Klaus Gehrig, who has headed the Schwarz Group since 2004. Seidel was succeeded as CEO by Dane Jesper Højer, previously head of Lidl’s international buying operation.[122]

Like fellow German supermarket Aldi, Lidl has a zero waste, no-frills, “pass-the-savings-to-the-consumer” approach of displaying most products in their original delivery cartons, allowing the customers to take products directly from the carton. When the carton is empty, it is replaced with a full one. Staffing is minimal.[123]

There are generally more branded products offered in a Lidl store compared to Aldi. Lidl distributes many low-priced gourmet foods by producing each of them in a single European Union country for its whole worldwide chain, but it also sources many local products from the country where the store is located. Lidl has special weekly offers, and its stock of non-food items often changes with time. In contrast to Aldi, Lidl advertises extensively in its homeland of Germany.

The same as Aldi, Lidl does not play mood music in most countries, including Germany. Exceptions include stores in the United States, Croatia, Spain (but not all), Poland and Lithuania. Additionally, in two stores in Denmark, music is played as a test. Lidl stores have PA systems for important announcements but do not broadcast commercials.

The Lidl operation in the United Kingdom has a different approach than in Germany by focusing on marketing and public relations and providing employee benefits not required by law, including paying the independently verified living wage and offering a staff discount.[124] Upmarket products were introduced, especially in the lead-up to Christmas. This strategy required significant investment in marketing to produce sales growth, but it had a deleterious effect on Lidl’s logistical operation and pressure on profits. Ronny Gottschlich, who had run Lidl GB for six years to 2016, was responsible for this approach, fell out with head office and unexpectedly left in September 2016. He was replaced by the Austrian sales and operations director, German-national Christian Härtnagel.[125]

Lidl continues to have ambitious investment plans in the United Kingdom to increase the number of stores to 1,500. At the end of 2021, they had 880 stores and claim to be on track to reach 1,000 stores by the end of 2023[126] and 1,100 stores by 2025[127].  By June 2022, their market share in the UK reached 6.9%[128], putting them in sixth position behind Morrisons.


The Co-op Group originated in the co-operative consumer societies started by the Rochdale Pioneers in the 1840s.[129] In 1863, the North of England Co-operative Wholesale Industrial and Provident Society Limited was launched in Manchester by 300 individual co-operatives in Yorkshire and Lancashire. By 1872, it was known as the Co-operative Wholesale Society (CWS) and was wholly owned by the co-operatives that traded with it.

After 1875, the CWS and its Scottish incarnation (SCWS) cooperated in the purchase and shipment of foodstuffs from overseas. Over the next century, CWS underwent many changes and eventually became The Co-operative Group[130], now the world’s largest consumer-owned business.

Co-op Food opened Britain’s first fully self-service store in March 1948 in Albert Road, Southsea.  Co-op Food is a brand now used for the retail food business of The Co-operative Group in the United Kingdom. Before reintroducing the brand in 2016, the group used “The Co-operative” branding, which is still used by several consumers’ co-operative societies in the UK:

  • The “Co-op” brand is used by over 3,500 shops owned by various societies that comprise the co-operative movement, including the Central England Co-operative and the Midcounties Co-operative.
  • Some co-operative societies, including Scotmid and the Lincolnshire Co-operative, prefer to use the 1992 ‘cloverleaf version’ of The Co-operative brand.
  • In May 2016, The Co-operative Group reverted to using its 1968 Co-op cloverleaf branding.

During the 1980s, the CWS began to merge with several failing co-operative societies, having returned to direct retailing after its merger with the SCWS the decade before. These mergers with consumers’ co-operatives led to the co-op having both corporate (co-op societies) and individual members, hence making it both a primary and secondary co-operative.[131] The CWS’s expansion into direct retailing (especially after the mergers of the 2000s) led to the CWS becoming a highly visible business in the UK. The legacy of this was that many people perceive the British co-operative movement to be one business, The Co-operative Group, or Co-op for short.[132]

In March 2009, The Co-operative Group acquired the Somerfield supermarket retailer for £1.57bn from a group of private equity investors. The Somerfield Head Office in Bristol was subsequently closed, and the grocery stores were either sold to rivals or integrated into its own Co-op Food division. In 2016, The Co-operative Group sold 298 smaller convenience stores to McColl’s.

Most products sold in Co-op Food shops are sourced collectively through Co-operative Federal Trading Services, the central buying group for the over 4,000 co-operative food stores in the United Kingdom[133], although the individual businesses determine stocking decisions and pricing. Co-operative Federal Retail and Trading Services came into its current structure in 2015, though its predecessor was established in 1993.  

Although often considered as one supermarket business, The Co-operative Food is a network of supermarkets and convenience shops owned and operated by over 15 independent co-operative societies, many of which have adopted the 2008 version of The Co-operative brand.

In 2021, the Co-op started selling food online through Amazon, using robots to deliver groceries. The GMB union criticised the move, which has been campaigning for improved worker rights at Amazon.[134]

Members of The Co-operative Group and participating regional societies earn points for every £1.00 spent at The Co-operative Food. Points are converted into dividends at a rate agreed annually by the Board.[135]

Note: The Co-op Annual Report & Accounts for 2021 say that the number of food stores is 2,584[136] (about the same as it was in 2017). This number does not correlate to the numbers given elsewhere and mentioned above.

The main Co-op Food ranges are:

  • Co-op – standard own brand range
  • Irresistible – premium food and drink
  • Free From – suitable for customers with food allergies
  • Gro – Vegetarian own brand range
  • Honest Value – Lower price range (launched November 2020[137])

In June 2022, Co-operative Food accounted for 6.2% of the UK grocery supermarket[138], just ahead of Waitrose but trailing Lidl.

Remember them? Defunct Supermarkets in the UK[139]

Have you ever wondered what happened to the supermarket that you, your parents or grandparents used to shop at many years ago?

­­­Click on the links below for further information.


Safeway was a major supermarket seen around towns and cities in the UK from as early as 1962. It was a subsidiary of its US parent company and boasted almost 500 stores around the UK. It was, however, not designed to be around forever. After a successful merger with Argyll Foods in 2004, it was bought out entirely by Morrisons, with most of its existing stores and convenience shops being rebranded to the Morrisons empire and the rest being sold. By late 2005, the brand disappeared in the UK.

Allday’s supermarkets were seen in abundance in Scotland and South East England in the 1990s and hailed themselves as a chain of convenience stores. The Alldays brand expanded and purchased more outlets that were merged into the existing brand, but unfortunately, profits did not match the brand’s expansion. By mid-2002, the brand put itself up for sale after a huge pre-tax loss and was bought out in its entirety by the Co-operative Group.

Somerfield was a chain of supermarkets operating in the UK from 1960, previously called Gateway. They operated self-service supermarkets primarily in South West England. They opened the first store under the new branding of Somerfield in Nottingham in 1991, but two decades later were acquired by the Co-operative group.

Sainsbury’s once operated Sainsbury’s Freezer Centres, a chain of frozen food stores. The first store opened in 1974 near Bournemouth but was not met with much success. In 1975, stores that were refurbished or newly- built had separate freezer departments. In 1986, the freezer stores were sold to Bejam, and three years later, in 1989, they became part of the Iceland chain.

Initially, a Danish brand of cut-price supermarket products, Netto entered the UK in the early 1990s, bringing international food and bargain-basement food and products to the home. Owned by the Salling Group, Netto had accumulated nearly 200 stores by May 2010 but was then sold to Asda. Netto returned to the UK market in 2014 in collaboration with Sainsbury’s, which lasted two years before Sainsbury’s dissolved the partnership and sold all Netto stores.

In 1964, Presto supermarkets became popular in Scotland, and the North of England and eventually had a  nationwide presence. In 1982, the brand had accumulated 136 stores, and it had transferred all of its going concerns to Argyll Foods, which continued to operate under the Presto umbrella until 1985 when a significant rebranding shuffle was decided upon. However, in 1987, the supermarkets were subsumed into the Safeway brand began after the parent company Argyll Foods acquired Safeway, and in 1998 the conversion was complete, and the Presto brand was no more.

Supermarket Date founded or came to the UK Fate Closure Date
APT Stores   No information readily available  
Bateman & Sons   Bought by Budgens 1973
Bejam 1968 Bought by Iceland 1989
Big W 1998 Discontinued, rebranded as Woolworths 2004
Bishops Stores   Bought by Budgens[1] 1984
BP Safeway 1962 Dissolved following Safeway takeover by Morrisons  
Brian Ford’s Discount Store 1975 Bought by Tesco in 2004 2010
Brierleys Supermarkets   Went into receivership in 1974.[2] Superseded by Hillards supermarket  
Burton Supermarkets   Bought by Fine Fare  
Capital Freezer Centres   Now owned by Farmfoods  
J.C. Carline   Became part of Fine Fare  
Carrefour The 1970s UK business sold to Gateway/Somerfield, then later to Asda 1990
Cartier’s Superfoods c.1970 Bought by Tesco 1979
Cater Brothers 1881 Became part of Presto 1979
Cave Austin and Company 1896 Taken over by Burton, Son, and Sanders in 1963. Purchased by Moore Stores in 1966.[3] 1964
Challenge Supermarket   Became part of Frank Dee  
Cooltrader   Bought out by Heron Foods 2017
Coopers & Co   Bought by Fine Fare 1955
Cordon Bleu Freezer Food Centres 1964 Owned by Argyll Supplies  
County Stores   Sold to Gateway, converted to Somerfield 1990
Crazy Prices   Bought by Tesco  
Dalgety Freezer Centres   Bought by James Gullivers Argyll Supplies  
Danish Food Centre   No information readily available  
David Greig   Bought by Fitch Lovell  
DEE Discount Stores   Rebranded as Gateway, later Somerfield now owned by Co-op  
Dewhurst Freezer Food Centres   No information readily available  
Downsway Supermarkets   Bought by Fine Fare 1978
Elmo   Bought by Fine Fare  
Fairway c. the 1960s Bought by Frank Dee The 1980s
Fine Fare 1951 Bought by Gateway 1986
Food Giant The 1970s Part of Somerfield 1990s
Ford & Lock 1960 Sold to Gateway 1974
Freezeway   Bought by Farmfoods  
FreshXpress 2007 Appointed Administrators in 2008, liquidated in 2009 2009
Frank Dee Supermarkets   Rebranded as Gateway, later Somerfield now owned by Co-op  
Galbraith supermarkets 1894 Bought by Allied Suppliers, then Argyll Group  
Gateway Foodmarkets 1950 Rebranded as Somerfield 1992
Goodfellows   No information readily available  
Grandways   Some stores were sold to Argyll Group for their Presto chain and Kwik Save. The remainder were renamed Jacksons 1992/3
GT Smith   Bought by Co-operative Group 2002
Haldanes 2009 (Including UGO stores) 2011
Hanburys[1] 1889 Bought by Co-op 1997
Hodgson & Hepworth   No information readily available  
Hillards 1880 Bought by Tesco 1988
Hintons 1871 Bought by Argyll Foods (1984) became part of Presto  
Homefare Supermarket   No information readily available  
Home and Colonial Stores 1883 Bought by Cavendish Foods 1972
Hollis Supermarkets   No information readily available  
Imperial Stores   Bought by International 1977
Irwin’s Stores   Bought by Tesco  
International 1874 Bought by Dee Corporation 1996
Anthony Jackson Foodfare   Bought by Victor Value  
Jacksons   Bought by J Sainsbury 2008
Kenton Supermarkets   No information readily available  
Key Markets   Bought by Dee Corporation  
Kibby’s Supermarkets   No information readily available  
Kwik Save 1959 The brand is now owned by Costcutter.  
Laws Stores c.1890s Bought by Wm Low for £7.1 million in 1985 1985
Lennons Supermarkets 1958 Bought by Dee Corporation  
Leos   Rebranded Co-operative Pioneer  
Liptons 1871 Bought by Allied Suppliers  
Lo-Cost   Converted to Safeway. Some stores sold to other chains e.g. Kwik Save.  
Liptons 1871 Bought by Allied Suppliers  
Lo-Cost   Converted to Safeway. Some stores sold to other chains, e.g. Kwik Save.  
Lodges 1921 Bought by Co-operative Retail Services 1995
Lowfreeze   Bought by Bejam  
Mac Fisheries   Bought by Dee Group 1978
Mainstop   Acquired by Gateway 1981
Markdown Supermarkets   No information readily available  
A. Massey & Sons   Bought by Home & Colonial  
Mercury Market   Bought by Fine Fare  
Moore Stores The 1870s Bought by Cavenham and added to the Allied Suppliers Group 1976
Netto 1990 Bought by Asda in 2010 for £778M from Dansk Supermarked Group. A total of 147 stores were rebranded in 2011 as Asda local stores. The remaining 47 stores have been sold off to other companies such as Morrisons and new convenience store UGO and other retailers due to competition laws. Netto then returned to the UK with a partnership with Sainsbury’s, initially opening 15 stores in the north of England.[1]  In July 2016, Sainsbury’s ended the joint venture, scrapping the Netto name in the UK again. 2011
Normans supermarkets   Bought by Plymco  
Normid   Re-branded Co-op  
Norco   Rebranded Co-op  
Orchard Frozen Foods   Bought by Iceland 1986
Paddy’s Superstore   No information readily available  
Premier Supermarkets   Bought by Mac Fisheries 1965
Presto 1977 After buying out Safeway, all stores were converted to the Safeway brand 1998
Savemore   No information readily available  
Saverite 1968 Bought by West Midlands Co-operative Society which later became Mid-counties Co-operative after a merger with Oxford, Swindon and Gloucester Co-operative 2000
Schofield & Martin   Rebranded as Waitrose c.1965
SIMCO Supermarkets   Taken over by Dunnes Stores  
Shoppers Paradise   Taken over by Gateway  
Shopping Giant   Co-op stores brand name in Greater Manchester area.  
Shop Rite 1972 Bought by Kwik Save, Still trades as ShopRite in the Isle of Man, stocking a range of Waitrose & Iceland products as well as locally produced goods 1994
Smiths Freezer Centres   No information readily available c.1990s
Somerfield 1875 Purchase agreed by the Co-operative Group on 16th July 2008 for £1.56bn. From 2009, many larger stores were sold off, and smaller stores rebranded to Co-operative Food.[1] 2011
Solo   Trading name of Gateways – rebranded Somerfield  
St Catherine’s Freezer Centres   Bought by Iceland 1983
Stewarts Supermarket Limited   Bought by Tesco  
Stitchers Supermarkets   Bought by Downsway  
Supa-Save 1960 Closed by owners, Keddies The 1970s
Superkey   No information readily available  
Supermac 1964 Demolished to make way for Forrestside Shopping Centre.  Northern Ireland’s first out-of-town supermarket was opened by Anderson & Macauley.[2]  
Supernational Stores 1935 Bought by Gateway  
Taskers 1961 No information readily available  
Templeton Supermarkets 1880 Bought by Allied Suppliers, then Argyll Group  
Value Foods 1959 Rebranded as Kwik Save 1965
Victor Value   Bought by Tesco 1968/1986
Vye & Son: The Kentish Grocer 1817 Bought by Home & Colonial 1960s
Wallis 1955 Bought by Somerfield 2003
Wavy Line   No information readily available  
Walter Willson   Bought by Alldays  
Wellworths   Bought by Musgrave Group & Safeway 1997
Whelan Discount Stores   Bought by Morrisons for £1.5 million[3] 1978
Wm Low   Bought by Tesco  
Williamson & Treadgold   No information readily available  
Woolco 1966 Discontinued, rebranded as Woolworth and later bought by Gateway in 1986 1982

[1] See: “Co-op buys rival supermarket Somerfield”. 16th July 2008.

[2] See:  “Old Belfast Magazine and Tours – Belfast History Project”. Facebook. 21st March 2016.

[3] See: “FA Cup final: Wigan’s Whelan makes poignant Wembley return – BBC Sports Website p9 May 2015”. BBC Sport.

[1] Source: “Sainsbury’s & Netto stores to help create 300-plus jobs in Scunthorpe”. 24th July 2014.

[1] Source: “PICTURES: Bolton’s iconic shops throughout the years”. Pinterest. 

[1] Source: Competition Commission report, para 3.10 (a)” (PDF)

[2] Source: “A Study of The Evolution of Concentration in the Food Distribution Industry for the United Kingdom” (PDF)The Commission of the European Communities (Volume 1). October 1977.

[3] Source: The New Dawn. 1966. p84.

Supermarket Innovations[140]

Grocery stores have come a long way. They used to be small general stores stocked with nonperishables, but now they’re practically warehouses full of technological marvels. Here’s a look at some of the innovations and changes that have happened from the very first supermarkets to those of today, largely US-influenced and later copied worldwide:

  • The Shopping Cart: One item missing from Saunders’ forward-thinking Piggly Wiggly markets was the iconic shopping cart (or shopping trolley as we call it in the UK).  It wouldn’t be seen in stores until 1937 when Sylvan Goldman introduced it to his Humpty Dumpty stores. The design, inspired by folding chairs, was initially snubbed by shoppers. Men found them effeminate, and women resented their likeness to prams or push-chairs. Inventor Orla Watson later pioneered the rear folding wall “nesting” version of the cart that is still used today.
  • The Supermarket: Around 1930, the first true supermarket burst on the scene when former Kroger and A&P executive Michael Cullen opened King Kullen in the Queens borough of New York. King Kullen finally brought the Smithsonian’s five characteristics of a supermarket under one roof: separate departments, self-service, discount pricing, chain marketing and volume dealing. The innovation was widely popular, and competitors adopted the format across the US.
  • Coupons: You might be surprised to learn that Coca-Cola invented shopping coupons in 1887. It became an almost instant success story, but the idea didn’t become a big thing until the 1950s, when The Nielsen Coupon Clearing House was formed to help monitor the redemption of coupons. Until then, there had been no centralised way of authenticating coupons, and retailers were reluctant to accept them. Further coupon innovations would come in the form of the Valpak neighbourhood savings booklet in 1968, and the first newspaper coupon
  • section insert in 1972. Target stores eventually took the technology to a higher digital level with scannable smartphone coupons in 2010.
  • International Foods: After World War II, there was renewed interest in international foods born from service personnel who had served abroad. In addition, the growth in travel to foreign holiday locations increased interest in food from other countries. While international offerings have since expanded in mainstream supermarkets, this was the start of a more diverse set of products becoming available in grocery aisles.
  • Bar Code Technology: Joseph Woodland was working at Drexel Institute of Technology when he set out to create a way for grocery store checkout queues to move more quickly and hasten the process of taking stock of goods. In 1952, he came up with the concept of a bar code (later named Uniform Product Code or UPC) while sitting on a beach in Miami and drawing his fingers through the sand. However, even though he successfully invented the bar code, he was unsuccessful in creating the technology to scan it.
  • Price Scanners:  During the summer of 1974, the first Spectra-Physics model A price scanner was installed in a Marsh supermarket in Troy, Ohio. The scanners increased checkout speed by reading the new product-identifying Uniform Product Code (UPC). The first scanned item was a package of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit chewing gum. UPCs and price scanners are still used in supermarkets today.
  • One-Stop Shopping: Originally made popular by brands like Portland-based Fred Meyer, the one-stop shopping phenomenon expanded upon the single grocery store model by adding departments specialising in clothing, pharmacy and health goods, homewares, clothing and furniture, music and even electronics and appliances. The model didn’t permeate the whole of the US until the 1990s when Kmart and Walmart began adding grocery departments to many of their already enormous stores.
  • Loyalty Cards replace Green Shield Stamps: While Green Shield stamps acted as a successful beginning for supermarket loyalty programs, they faded by the 1990s and were replaced with modern-day loyalty cards. The loyalty cards used the new UPC bar code technology and were less cumbersome to deal with during checkout. Although apps have replaced some loyalty cards, they are still largely used today.
  • Credit Cards: There was a time – not all that long ago – when grocery store checkout lanes log jammed as cashiers and customers awkwardly juggled handwritten cheques, cash, and identity/bank cards between them. Around 50% of all purchases were made by personal cheque for much of the latter half of the 20th century. In 1958, the first American Express credit cards appeared, allowing holders to add funds to an account accessible via their plastic card. The first debit card (later named Visa) was issued to account-holders in California by Bank of America – also in 1958. A group of other banks teamed up to launch Mastercard within weeks.
  • Self-Service Checkouts: Invented by David R. Humble in 1992, self-service checkout terminals rose to near-ubiquity before facing a stiff backlash and losing significant market space.
  • Smart Stores: In 2018, Kroger announced its Microsoft Azure-backed Kroger Edge technology would be rolled out across 200 stores. Aisles were outfitted entirely with digital prices and monitors displaying video ads for various products. Smartphone integration is on the horizon, but the idea is that consumers can build their shopping lists beforehand, and shelves will light up as they walk down the aisles, making grocery shopping easier and quicker. You could even set dietary restriction profiles online and allow the store to build meal plan carts for vegans or those with food allergies simply by walking up and down the aisles.
  • Amazon Go: The year 2018 also saw Amazon Go open its doors to the public after a lengthy beta run restricted to Amazon employees. “Go” stores use hundreds of cameras and sensors along with a mandatory app on consumer smartphones to track and charge the items that people take out to their cars. The technology is fittingly called Just Walk Out, and with it, Amazon has eliminated checkout lines and the necessity of human cashiers to staff them. You grab your groceries and then just walk out. The first Amazon Go was roughly the size of a large 7-Elevenstore and opened in Seattle in 2018 on a smaller bodega-like scale. Amazon launched its first full-sized, cashier-less grocery store in Seattle in February 2020. Amazon is pressing the pause button on dozens more self-checkout grocery stores amid disappointing sales, a recently published report says:[141]
    – Amazon is halting the roll-out of more Fresh self-checkout food stores, The
    Sunday Times reported.
    – Sources told the UK newspaper that disappointing sales and an uncertain
    economy led to the decision.
    – Amazon has struggled to open physical stores amid high costs and tension with
    Whole Foods
    – The Sunday Times reported that some store openings would go ahead if leases
    had already been signed.
  • In-store Cooking Classes: Pacific Foods felt that an innovative way to earn customer loyalty was to teach customers how to prepare the food they bought in the store. So when they opened their Portland, Oregon, outpost in 2018, they integrated a classroom space that took up about a third of the store. Centered around healthy living, the courses teach healthy recipes and bundle products together for customers to bring home.

Grocery Chains in the US[142]

The Oldest Chains

Whether it’s Ralphs or Piggly Wiggly, supermarket chains have existed longer than you might think. While the longevity of these grocery chains relies on several factors, including the ability to buy out the competition, it also relates to the nature of the business. Unlike clothing stores or even restaurants, grocery stores offer essential services. Additionally, several stores are regional, allowing the large chains to do well within their designated states. Here’s a list of the ten oldest Grocery chains in the US:


The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company, established in 1859, was a successful early grocery store chain in Canada and the US and became common in North American cities in the 1920s. Early self-service grocery stores did not sell fresh meats or produce. Combination stores that sold perishable items were developed in the 1920s.[143]

According to the Smithsonian Institution, the first true supermarket in the US, and the world, was opened by ex-Kroger employee Michael J. Cullen, on 4th August 1930, in a 6,000 square foot (560 m²) former garage in Jamaica, Queens, New York.[144] Cullen’s store (called King Kullen, named for King Kong) operated under the slogan “Pile it high. Sell it low” (a slogan seemingly copied by Jack Cohen of Tesco in the UK). The main difference between this store and the Piggly Wiggly stores was that Cullen’s store was much larger, and they stocked national brands of food that were not easily found at neighbourhood markets. The rise of the refrigerator also gave Cullen the idea to provide plenty of car parking near or around the supermarket so people could buy large quantities of food to take home for storage.[145] 

Initially, grocery chains at the time, like Kroger and Safeway, resisted Cullen’s idea but eventually were forced to build their own supermarkets as the North American economy sank further into the Great Depression and consumers became price-sensitive to a degree never seen before.[146] Kroger took the idea one step further and pioneered the first supermarket surrounded on all four sides by car parking. It wasn’t long before other supermarkets popped up, using Cullen’s ideas to attract many consumers.

North American supermarkets are often co-located with smaller retailers in strip malls
and are generally regional rather than national. Kroger is probably the closest thing to a national chain in the United States but has preserved most of its regional brands like Ralphs, City Market, and King Soopers. In Canada, the largest food retailer is Loblaw Companies, which operates grocery stores across Canada under various regional names such as Fortinos, Zehrs, and the largest Loblaws (named after the company itself). Sobeys is Canada’s second-largest supermarket with locations across the country, operating under many banners (Sobeys, IGA in Quebec locations).[147]

In the 1950s, supermarkets frequently issued trading stamps as incentives to customers. Today, most chains issue store-specific “membership cards”, “club cards”, or “loyalty cards“. These typically enable the cardholder to receive special members-only discounts on certain items when the credit card-like device is scanned at checkouts. Sales of selected data generated by club cards have become a significant revenue stream for some supermarkets. Typically, several items are given special discounts if credit card-like devices are used. Today supermarkets face price competition from discount retailers such as Wal-Mart and Zellers (non-union labour and greater buying power) and warehouse stores such as Costco (savings in bulk quantities).[148]

How Aldi and Lidl succeeded in the UK[149]

When Aldi arrived in Britain more than 30 years ago, Tesco and Sainsbury’s were sure they had nothing to worry about, but now they know better.

Let’s go back to April 1990, Stechford, Birmingham, where you would see a new, strange grocery shop called Aldi. It stocked only 600 basic items – all at very low prices. Many staple items, including butter, tea and ketchup, offered a single brand which was new to British shoppers. Shoppers at the time were accustomed to the abundance of Tesco and Sainsbury’s, which dominated the British grocery sector with thousands of products and brands, delicatessens, vast fridges and aisles piled high with fresh fruit and vegetables, the minuscule range would have seemed dismal.

Here’s a quick overview of the Aldi strategy, largely copied by Lidl:

  • In the early 1990s, Aldi had a deliberate policy to keep out of London and the Southeast, instead focusing on the Midlands and the north of England, where store rents were lower and the customers less affluent.
  • Cost remains the most important consideration.
  • Aldi developed a multiple barcode and checkout strategy to get customers through the tills more quickly than at established market leaders.
  • When entering a new market, Aldi seeks to magnify this labour-cost advantage in a counterintuitive way: by publicising that it will pay its store staff better than other supermarkets. Paying well helps attract and retain staff who might otherwise go to chains where the pace of work is slower. But it also drives up wages across the industry, which because of Aldi’s lower overall employee costs, impacts its competitors more.

So what happened? Kwik Save foundered and eventually went under. Tesco overtook Sainsbury’s to become the leading UK grocery chain. Profits at the big four remained healthy in the 21st century, even as they chased new income streams by expanding abroad and launching online shopping, banking and mobile-phone services. Aldi and Lidl were still regarded as niche retailers, locked out of the mainstream market. Then the 2008 downturn arrived: Northern Rock was nationalised, Lehman Brothers collapsed, and the global economic crisis began. Inflation rose above 5%. Companies laid off staff. Whilst household incomes were squeezed, the big grocery chains raised their prices in line with inflation, to try to preserve their profit margins and staff pay levels. Out of sheer necessity, shoppers were forced to see what alternatives the discounters offered. Aldi’s moment had arrived: By the time the supermarkets woke up to the structural shift that had taken place in the industry, the damage was done. Even though they wanted shopping baskets (at first, Aldi didn’t provide them), they didn’t like the idea of 90,000 different products as much as lower prices. Even more shoppers took their wallets to Aldi and Lidl, some just for the essentials but others for the bulk of their weekly shop.

Aldi (coming from Germany) believed eventual success was a near certainty because all the conditions it looks for in a foreign market were present in the UK:

  • Large supermarkets dominated the grocery industry, with no big “hard discount” retailer present.
  • Tesco et al., as well as the leading “soft” discounter Kwik Save, were public companies. Few bosses of public companies were attracted to a long-term strategy of lowering prices to compete with Aldi as it meant lower bonuses by pursuing long-term strategies.
  • The UK is a wealthy country, where most people are unwilling to compromise on the types of food they eat.
  • The UK is, by global standards, a high-wage economy, so labour costs make up a big part of a supermarket’s operating expenses. Discounters have a major competitive advantage because stocking a small range of products, eschewing delicatessens and promotions, etc., allows them to work with fewer but more productive staff.
  • At Aldi, there are no dedicated checkout clerks but rather “all-rounders” who work the tills when needed but also clean the floor if there is a spill, and bring merchandise from the stockroom onto the shop floor. Replenishing the shelves is much faster than at other supermarkets because the products are displayed in the boxes they arrived in, rather than arranged by hand.

What’s next?

Mmuze Technologies Limited is an Israeli startup that brings the advantages of an in-store representative to online retailers, using artificial intelligence and NLU (Natural Language Understanding) for a conversational, virtual shopping assistant. It does this through a virtual personal shopping assistant, which enables customers to interact with a brand – via voice or text conversation – and tell them exactly what they are looking for.  Whether they are searching for a specific dress or want advice on what to wear to a certain event, Mmuze “associates” answer every question that shoppers have, from price to style to material specifications. This saves them from having to scroll through hundreds of items online, making their experience more convenient and personal. They also offer customers personalised suggestions based on their purchase history and the latest trends.

GlobalData predicts that voice purchases will hit €45bn in the UK and US in 2022, and Adobe claims 90% of decision-makers are investing in voice tech, according to Drapers[150].

Other innovations identified by Drapers are:

  • Customer engagement platform Preciate uses facial-recognition technology to help shop floor staff identify customers as they enter the store. It aims to help brands and retailers offer customers a unique, individualised experience through its tech-driven “loyalty programme”.  As an opt-in service, Preciate requires shoppers to enrol with a selfie, which can be taken via a mobile, laptop or in-store. Next, the facial recognition algorithm notifies staff when shoppers enter the store and recognises them in real-time.
  • Visual AI technology from computer software company Syte allows customers to search and shop for products by uploading an image to show what they are looking for, rather than textually describing it.  By uploading an image to a retailer’s website or app – be it from a brand campaign, a random person on the street or magazine cutting – customers can browse and buy visually similar items currently in stock.
  • Measurement technologies enable MySizeID to advise customers on the best size for every item that catches their attention. Arguing that “customers shouldn’t rely on varying size carts”, MySize uses an algorithm to measure customers’ precise body fit using their smartphone sensors without needing a camera (instructions on how to take images of each body part are included). You can see a video on this at:

Emerging trends and technologies[151]

Five emerging trends and technologies are expected to offer new challenges and opportunities in the months ahead:

1: Online

2: Contactless

3: A new era for physical stores

4: Sustainable and ethical

5: Technology for operational resilience

CAUTION: Neither we nor any third parties provide any warranty or guarantee as to the accuracy, timeliness, performance, completeness or suitability of the information and materials covered in this paper for any particular purpose. Such information and materials may contain inaccuracies or errors, and we expressly exclude liability for any such inaccuracies or errors to the fullest extent permitted by law. Your use of any information or materials on this website is entirely at your own risk, for which we shall not be liable. It shall be your own responsibility to ensure that any products, services or information available through this paper meet your specific requirements, and you should neither act nor exercise inaction without taking appropriate professional advice. The hyperlinks were current at the date of publication.


Next, you will find details (some with hyperlinks) of further reading of books, articles and papers.

Further Reading: Books, Articles and Papers

  • Andrew Alexander and Simon Phillips, ‘Fair play for the small man: perspectives on the contribution of the independent shopkeeper, 1930-c.1945,’ Business History (2006), vol.48, pp 69-89.
  • Andrew Alexander, Simon Phillips and Gareth Shaw, ‘Retail innovation and shopping practices: consumers’ reactions to self-service retailing,’ 
    Environment and Planning A advance online publication,
  • S. Burt and L. Sparks, ‘Structural change in grocery retailing in Great Britain: A discount reorientation?’, in J. Benson and S. Shaw eds., The Retailing Industry: Post 1945-Retail Revolutions, Volume 3, (I.B. Tauris: London, 1999) pp 93-113.
  • The Competition Commission, ‘Groceries Report: emerging thinking,’
  • Jane Hamlett, Adrian R. Bailey, Andrew Alexander and Gareth Shaw, ‘Ethnicity and Consumption: South Asian food shopping patterns in Britain 1947-1975,’ Journal of Consumer Culture (2008), vol. 8, pp 91-116.
  • Peter Jackson, Rossana Perez del Aguila, Ian Clarke, Alan Hallsworth, Ronan de Kervenoael, Malcolm Kirkup, ‘Retail restructuring and consumer choice 2. Understanding consumer choice at household level,’ Environment and Planning A (2006), vol. 38, pp 47-67.
  • James B. Jefferys, Retail Trading in Britain 1850-1950 (CUP: Cambridge, 1954).
  • House of Commons All Party Parliamentary Small Shops Group, ‘High Street Britain 2015,
  • C. Morelli, ‘Constructing a balance between price and non-price competition in British multiple food retailing 1954-64,’ Business History
    (1998), vol 40, pp 45-61.
  • 1926-1936: Entrepreneurs and Enterprise: A look at industry pioneers like King Kullen and J. Frank Grimes and the institution they created, at:…-a018950005
  • S. Mullins, Talking Shop: an oral history of retailing in the Harborough area during the 20th century (Alan Sutton: Stroud, 1994).
  • New Economics Foundation, ‘Clone town Britain: the survey results on the bland state of the nation,’
  • J.F. Pickering, Resale Price Maintenance in Practice (George Allen and Unwin: London, 1966.)
  • Self-service: a short history of supermarkets, by Adrian Murphy, 
    Europeana Foundation. Published 5th April 2020 by Europeana Foundation.
  • M. Zimmerman, ‘The Supermarket and the Changing Retail Structure,’
    Journal of Marketing, 1941.
  • Mass Market Retailers, The Place Where Supermarketing Was Born, 
  • About Retail, Supermarket, Arkay Cost Reduction, 2005.
  • Ryan Mathews, ‘1926–1936: Entrepreneurs and Enterprise; A Look at Industry Pioneers like King Kullen and J. Frank Grimes, and the Institution They Created (Special Report: Social Change and the Supermarket),’ Progressive Grocer, 1996.
  • Thomas Reardon and Dave Weatherspoon, The Rise of Supermarkets in Africa, Development Policy Review, 2003, 21(3): 333–355.
  • Margaret Ntloedibe, The South African Market is Booming, 
    AgExporter, April 2004.
  • Sarah Irving, Don’t Believe the Hypermarket. New Internationalist 395 (November 2006).
  • Barbara Kahn and Leigh McAlister, Grocery Revolution: The New Focus on the Consumer, (Prentice Hall, 1997 ISBN 0673998800).
  • ‘Building Co-operation: A Business History of The Co-operative Group, 1863-2013’ by John F. Wilson, Anthony Webster, Rachael Vorberg-Rugh, Oxford University Press, 2013.

[1] Source:              

[2] Source:

[3] Source:

[4] See: “Modern Marvels: The Supermarket”. History Channel, first broadcast 15th November 2006, and Lindstrom, Martin (9th December 2011). “Shopping Carts Will Track Consumers’ Every Move”. Harvard Business Review.

[5] See:  Fleischauer, Eric (3rd November 2009). “2 Decatur Piggly Wigglys to become Food World stores”. Decatur Daily.

[6] Source:

[7] Source:

[8] US patent 1242872, C. Saunders, “Self-serving store”, issued 9th October 1917

[9]  Ross, Ashley (November 9, 2016). “The Surprising Way a Supermarket Changed the World”Time

[10] Sources: (1) “The Retailer”. The Western Fruit Jobber. IV (3). July 1, 1917, (2) “Public Market Sign Bears Astor’s Name. Young Capitalist to Let Space in Building at Broadway and 96th Street. Fine Decorative Frieze. Symbolical Design Under Cornice, with Food as Motive. Investment of $1,000,000” (PDF). The New York Times. 30th May 30, 1915, (3) “New Astor Market Opens To Big Trade. Stallholders Surprised by Size of the Crowds and Liberality of the Buying” (PDF). The New York Times. 17th October 1915, (4) “The Astor Legacy in Brick and Stone”The New York Times. 10th September 2006

[11] Source: Meyer, Zlati (5th April 2017). “Why ‘Grocerants’ are the new trend, taking a bite out of restaurants”USA Today. The phenomenon is growing fast enough both in prevalence and sophistication that the food industry has coined a name for these combination grocery stores and eateries – the ‘grocerant.’

[12] See also:

[13] See:

[14] Source: Sam Dean (7th February 2017). “Aldi overtakes Co-op as the UK’s fifth largest supermarket”. The Telegraph

[15] Source:  Helen Gregory (3rd November 2001). “It’s a super anniversary: it’s 50 years since the first full-size self-service supermarket was unveiled in the UK”. The Grocer.

[16] Credited mainly to Jack Cohen before he founded Tesco  

[17] Source: Finance (27th January 2017). “Tesco merging with Booker in a £3.7 billion deal”. Business Insider. 

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[22] Source:

[23] Sources: Various, including:

[24] Source:

[25] See Video: How Britain was seduced by supermarkets, at: Source:

[26] Source:

[27] Source: “Sainsbury’s-Asda merger blocked by regulator”. BBC News. 25th April 2019. 

[28] And incorporated as the private company ‘J. Sainsbury Limited’ in 1922.

[29] Source:  “Islington”. Sainsbury Archive. 

[30] Source: “Stepney”. Sainsbury Archive. 

[31] Source: “Counter Service Layout”. Sainsbury Archive.

[32] Source: “The Founders: John James Sainsbury”. Sainsbury Archive. 

[33] Source: “East Grinstead Case Study”. Sainsbury Archive.

[34] “The American Example”. Sainsbury Archive.

[35] Source: “Targeting customers”. Sainsbury Archive.

[36] Source: Finch, Julia (3 February 2007). “Sainsbury’s targeted for Europe’s biggest private equity buyout”. The Guardian. London. 

[37] Source:

[38] Source: Mainly

[39] Sources: Maurice Corina: “Pile It High Sell It Cheap: The Authorised Biography of Sir Jack Cohen”, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 1971, (2) Hosken, Andrew (2007). Nothing Like a Dame: The Scandals of Shirley Porter. Granta. ISBN 9781862079229, and (3) Ryle, Sarah (2013). The Making of Tesco: A story of British Shopping. Random House. ISBN 9781448127474.

[40] Source: “Cohen, Sir John Edward [Jack, formerly Jacob Edward Kohen] (1898–1979), grocer and creator of Tesco stores”. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. 8th January 2009. 

[41] Sources: (1) Tim Clark (15th April 2008). “A-history-of-Tesco-The-rise-of-Britains-biggest-supermarket”., (2) “History”., and (3) “a-z-of-employers-Tesco”, 11th January 2007.

[42] Source: “Tesco: How one supermarket came to dominate”. BBC News

[43] Source: “History”. Tesco PLC.

[44] Source: “Tesco: How one supermarket came to dominate”. BBC News

[45] Sources: (1) Tim Clark (15 April 2008). “A-history-of-Tesco-The-rise-of-Britains-biggest-supermarket”., (2) “History”., and (3) “a-z-of-employers-tesco”.

[46] Source: Zokaei, Keivan; Lovins, Hunter; Wood, Andy; Hines, Peter (3rd May 2013). Creating a Lean and Green Business System: Techniques for Improving Profits and Sustainability. CRC Press. ISBN 978-1-4665-7112-9.

[47] Sources: (1) Zokaei, Keivan; Lovins, Hunter; Wood, Andy; Hines, Peter (3rd May 2013). Creating a Lean and Green Business System: Techniques for Improving Profits and Sustainability. CRC Press. ISBN 978-1-4665-7112-9.and (2) “TESCO in 2003”. ICFAI.

[48] Source: “Tesco to spend pounds 65m developing Wm Low shops”. The Independent. 20th September 1994.

[49] Source:  Howarth (CMO), Brad; 21st May 2015 “How Tesco’s loyalty card transformed customer data tracking”.

[50] Source: “Tesco: How one supermarket came to dominate”. BBC News.

[51] Sources: (1) Business as usual for Sir Terry after 10 years in charge”. Birmingham Post. Midland Independent Newspapers. 22nd February 2007. p24, and (2) Buckley, Neil (22nd November 1995). “People: Leahy rings Tesco’s tills”. Financial Times. London. p40.

[52] Source: Cunningham, Sarah (22nd March 1997). “Tesco pays £630m for ABF’s Irish business”. The Times. Times Newspapers.

[53] Source: “Tesco’s Irish move approved”. Financial Times. London. 7th May 1997.

[54] Source: Helft, Miguel (2001). “Tesco buys stake in GroceryWorks”. The Industry Standard.

[55] Source:  “Tesco to enter United States”. Archived from the original on 14th April 2006.

[56] Source: “Tesco profits fall as supermarket pulls out of US”. BBC News. 17th April 2013.

[57] Sources: (1) Potter, Mark (16th February 2011). “Tesco to outpace growth at global rivals – study”. Reuters. and (2) “Global Powers of Retailing 2010” (PDF). Deloitte.

[58] Sources: (1) “Our businesses”. Tesco PLC., and (2) Finch, Julia (2nd February 2010). “Tesco opens its first zero carbon store”. The Guardian, UK.

[59] Source: “Tesco reaches agreement with Booker in £3.7bn merger deal”. STV News. 27th January 2017.

[60] Source: “Tesco to offload opticians’ business to Vision Express”. BBC News. 19th April 2017. 

[61] Source: “Tesco to axe 1,200 head office jobs”. BBC News. 28th June 2017. 

[62] Source: “Tesco cost cuts to hit 9,000 jobs”. BBC News. 28th January 2019. 

[63] Source:

[64] Source: “Head Office Location”. John Lewis Partnership.

[65] Source: “John Lewis Partnership – Who we are”. John Lewis Partnership.

[66] Source: “The Most Popular Supermarket Chains”. 10th July 2022.

[67] Source: “Waitrose”.  John Lewis Partnership plc.

[68] Sources: (1) Ruddick, Graham (27th December 2013). “Changing the ‘upmarket’ perception of Waitrose”. The Daily Telegraph. London., (2) Wood, Zoe (29th June 2011). “Waitrose or Lidl? Shoppers in a divided Britain compare supermarkets deals”. The Guardian. London, and (3) “Supermarket wars: Now upmarket Waitrose wants to open branch in Stoke Newington”. Hackney Citizen. 18th September 2013.

[69] Sources: (1) Womack, Sarah (2nd December 2002). “Waitrose awarded a royal warrant”. The Daily Telegraph. London., and (2) “The Waitrose Press Centre Another Royal Warrant for Waitrose”.

[70] Source: “Waitrose in Dubai deal to open first shops abroad”. Reuters. 31st December 2007.

[71] Source: Thompson, James (9th July 2008). “Waitrose to open convenience shops in pursuit of £27bn market”. The Independent. London.

[72] Source: “Waitrose First Convenience Shop Opens For Business”. 11th December 2008.

[73] Source: “Waitrose agrees first franchise deal with Welcome Break”. Waitrose Press Office. 1st April 2009. 

[74] Source: “I thought Ocado was the online service for Waitrose & Partners. Are they different?”. Waitrose. 

[75] Source: “WaitroseDeliver”. Waitrose. 

[76] Source: “The Waitrose Press Centre Waitrose dotcom fulfilment centre opens in London”.

[77] Source: Wells, Liz (2nd March 2020). “Waitrose expands online delivery network”. Talking Retail. 

[78] Source: “Interview: Waitrose MD Mark Price”. Country Life. 30th December 2008. 

[79] Source:

[80] Source: Sarah Butler and agency (27th June 2018). “Five Waitrose stores to close after John Lewis issues warning on profits”. The Guardian. 

[81] Sources:  Elias Jahshan (7 March 2019). “440 jobs at risk as Waitrose announces 5 store closures”. Retail Gazette, and (2) Sahar Nazir (19th July 2019). “Waitrose to close 7 shops, risking 677 jobs”. Retail Gazette.

[82] Source: “Waitrose announces closure of four stores”. BBC. 16th September 2020. 

[83] Source:

[84] Source: “Safeway glamour gives way to Yorkshire Bitter”. 12th January 2003

[85] Source: “Waitrose snaps up Safeway stores”. BBC News. 25th March 2004.

[86] Source: Finch, Julia (15th May 2004). “Struggling Sainsburys buy Safeway stores”. The Guardian, UK.

[87] Source: “UK Business Park”. UK Business Park.

[88] Source: “Morrisons sells 114 Safeway shops”. BBC News. 25th October 2004.

[89] Source: Tran, Mark (6th June 2005). “Asda moves into Northern Ireland”. The Guardian. London.

[90] Source:  “UK Business Park”. UK Business Park. 

[91] Source:  “CI Traders buy Safeway”. 30th April 2005.

[92] Source:  Morrisons pull out of Isle of Man

[93] Source:  “Friends of Gibraltar – Bringing Gibraltar’s Friends Together!” (PDF).

[94] Source:  “Morrisons staff announce walkout”. BBC News. 15th September 2005.

[95] Source: “Bolland named in Morrisons lead role”The Daily Telegraph. London. 8th June 2006.

[96] Source: Hall, James. “Retirement of Sir Ken Morrison”.

[97] Source: “Morrisons names Dalton Philips as new chief executive”. BBC News. 28th January 2010

[98] Source: “Morrisons signs deal to let Peacocks display”. Yorkshire Post. 9th May 2010.  

[99] Source: “Nutmeg Launches in 85 Morrisons stores”. 

[100] Source: “Morrisons challenges rivals with price promise at its new convenience stores”. The Guardian. London. 8 July 2008.

[101] Source: “Morrisons to offer online shopping in Ocado deal”. BBC News. 17th May 2013.

[102] Source: “Morrison’s board members”. Retrieved 17th December 2012.

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[108] Source:  “Morrisons plan to close 10 unprofitable stores following fall in Christmas sales”. The Journal. 30th January 2015.

[109] Source: “Morrisons supermarket cuts prices on 200 ‘everyday’ items”. BBC News. 8th June 2015.

[110] Source:  “Morrisons axes 3,000 managers in shakeup”. BBC News. 23rd January 2020.

[111] Sources: “Morrisons rejects £5.5bn takeover offer from private equity firm”. The Guardian. 19 June 2021,  “Rule 2.7 Announcement – Offer from Fortress”. London Stock Exchange. 3rd July 2021,  “Morrisons: Supermarket agrees £6.3bn takeover”BBC News. 4th July 2021,  “Morrisons: Bidding war looms for supermarket as rivals circle”BBC News. 7 July 2021,  Elder, Bryce (5 July 2021). “A Wm Morrison bidding war is a failure of public markets”The Financial Times,  “Prospect of Morrisons bidding war recedes”BBC News. 20th July 2021,  “Fortress-led group increases offer for Morrisons to £6.7bn”. The Guardian. 6th August 2021,  “Morrisons agrees to raised £6.7bn takeover offer from Fortress”. BBC News. 6th August 2021,  “Morrisons backs US firm’s improved takeover offer”. BBC News. 20th August 2021,  “Morrisons: US firm wins auction to take over supermarket chain”. BBC News. 2nd October 2021,  “£7.1BN Morrisons takeover sanctioned”. Insider Media. 26th October 2021.

[112] Source: “Morrisons wins race to buy McColl’s ahead of Asda owners”The Guardian. 9th May 2022.

[113] Source:

[114] Source:

[115] See: “Secrets of the German supermarkets conquering America (24 slides)”. LoveMoney.

[116] Source:  “Impressum Archived 27 July 2014 at the Wayback Machine.” Lidl. Retrieved 28th September 2012. “Adresse: Lidl Stiftung & Co. KG Stiftsbergstraße 1 74167 Neckarsulm “

[117] Source: “German discounter Lidl slows U.S. expansion: paper”. Reuters. 17th January 2018. 

[118] Source:  “Record turnover for Lidl owner: over 100 billion euros”. RetailDetail. 13th May 2019.

[119] Source: “The Germans Are Escalating America’s Grocery Price War”. 3rd January 2018.

[120] See:  “Lidl opens its 700th store in the UK”. BBC News. 15th February 2018

[121] Source: “Lidl attains its biggest UK grocery market share at 5.9%”. The Guardian. 20th August 2019.

[122] Sources: (1)  Ricadela, Aaron (21st March 2014). “German Grocer Lidl Names Replacement CEO After Holland Departure”. Bloomberg Business, and (2) Thomasson, Emma (7th February 2017). “Lidl replaces CEO after less than three years”. Retail Analysis

[123] Source:  “How Lidl keeps its prices low”. Business Insider. 2nd July 2017.

[124] Source: Butler, Sarah (24th November 2016). “Lidl to give lowest-paid staff pay rise to £8.45 an hour”. The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077

[125] Source: Butler, Sarah (10th September 2016). “Lidl UK boss unexpectedly leaves German supermarket”. The Guardian.

[126] Source:

[127] Source: and

[128] Source:

[129] See:

[130] Source:

[131] Source: Myners, Paul (7th May 2014). “Report of the Independent Governance Review” (PDF). Co-operative Group.

[132] Source: Wilson, J. F., Webster, A. and Vorberg-Rugh, R. (2013) “Building Co-operation: A business history of the Co-operative Group”, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

[133] Source: Voinea, Anca (11th March 2015). “Group moves from CRTG to Federal Trading Services”Co-operative News. Retrieved 1 July 2015. Consumer co-operatives are forming a successor to the Co-operative Retail Trading Group (CRTG). The new buying group, Federal Trading Services, will be collectively owned by independent retail societies and the Co-operative Group, which are currently part of CRTG.

[134] Source:  “Co-op faces criticism as it begins selling groceries via Amazon”. The Guardian. 16th September 2021.

[135] Source, and further information: The Co-operative Membership The Co-operative Group.

[136] See: “ Annual Report 2021 (PDF, 221 pages, 3.9 MB)” (PDF).

[137] Source: Hegarty, Ronan (21st October 2020). “Co-op cuts branded and own-label prices and adds new Honest Value range”. The Grocer.

[138] Source:

[139] Source: Believed to be current as of June 2019. See also:

[140] Sources: (1) and (2)

[141] See:, 21st August 2022

[142] Source:

[143] Source:

[144] Source:  Mass Market Retailers, The Place Where Supermarketing Was Born, 2002, cited at:

[145] Source: About Retail, Supermarket, Arkay Cost Reduction, 2005, cited at:

[146] Source: Ryan Mathews, “1926–1936: Entrepreneurs and Enterprise; A Look at Industry Pioneers like King Kullen and J. Frank Grimes, and the Institution they created (Special Report: Social Change and the Supermarket),” Progressive Grocer, 1996, cited at:

[147] Source:

[148] Source: Mauri, Chiara (2003). “Card loyalty. A new emerging issue in grocery retailing”. Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services. 10 (1): 13–25, cited at:

[149] Source: “The Aldi effect: how one discount supermarket transformed the way Britain shops”, 5th March 2019, at:

[150] Source:

[151] Source: (requires registration to download free whitepaper)


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