The Stores That Tesco Ate: A Lost Precinct Not So Perfect Ten

A look at ten supermarket chains absorbed by Tesco since 1945

For social historians and retail commentators, the recent history of Tesco is peppered with twists and turns. Contemporary hagiographies focus on the store chain’s tax affairs, or their presence on our High Streets.

Much of the groundwork was set in the 1960s and 1970s thanks to Jack Cohen. After organic growth, the end of the 1950s onwards saw Tesco buying regional chains like Irwins and Hillards. Even so, their integration wasn’t all plain sailing: for example, outstanding debts; unsuitable sites; and planning issues. Its turning point came when Ian MacLaurin joined the Tesco board after being a management trainee. As Managing Director in 1977, he ditched the Green Shield stamps, a gimmick which only ten years before, drew shoppers to their stores.

The rest, they say, is your favourite humanities cliché. It set the store chain onto an upward trajectory. Stores grew in size as well as numbers: standard sized supermarkets; plus Extras, Metros and Expresses. Then global domination, and a loyalty card scheme that took the retail world by storm.

In our Lost Precinct Not So Perfect Ten, we look at the ten store chains that Tesco have acquired since 1945. Continue reading “The Stores That Tesco Ate: A Lost Precinct Not So Perfect Ten”

The Wonder of Warrington Street: Looking Back at Woolworths

Our much missed variety store and, for many, the last word in pick and mix, children’s clothing and cheap video tapes.

The 02 January 2009 marked the end of an era in UK’s retail history, with the closure of Britain’s last Woolworths stores. In Tameside, its remaining branches in Ashton-under-Lyne and Hyde closed their doors for good. By the end of 2009, they became Poundland and Poundstretcher Extra discount stores respectively. The former retailer is famed for its single price strategy as its name suggests. Both have a variety of items within their stores which wouldn’t have been out of place in a typical UK Woolworths store. Likewise with Wilkinson’s Ashton, Droylsden and Hyde stores, and the Bargain Buys store in Ashton, which opened on the 06 December 2013.

Continue reading “The Wonder of Warrington Street: Looking Back at Woolworths”

Argos at Forty: From Green Shield Stamps to Blue Aliens

A look back at the catalogue based retailer

Canterbury is associated with a great many things. It has a historic cathedral; there was the Canterbury Scene whose alumni included Steve Hillage. In late 1973, on Sturry Road was the embryonic colossus of catalogue shopping: today’s Argos chain, and its first purpose built store. The name ‘Argos’ took its name from a city in Greece. Whilst Richard Tompkins was holidaying in Greece, he was looking for a suitable name for his chain of Green Shield Gift Houses. Continue reading “Argos at Forty: From Green Shield Stamps to Blue Aliens”