Fine Fare

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Fine Fare
Private company, Subsidiary
Industry Retail
Fate Acquired 1986
Successor The Dee Corporation
Founded 1951
Defunct 1988
Headquarters Welwyn Garden City, United Kingdom
Key people
James Gulliver, (Chairman 1967 - 1972)
Parent

Howardsgate Holdings 1951-1963

Associated British Foods 1963 - 1986

Dee Corporation 1986-188
Subsidiaries Melias, Shoppers Paradise
A Fine Fare store in Thirsk, 1968

Fine Fare was the name of a chain of supermarkets in the United Kingdom. It was famous for its Yellow Pack budget own-label range.

History[edit]

The company started as a single supermarket in Welwyn Garden City in 1951 as an offshoot of the Welwyn Department Store[1] owned by Howardsgate Holdings, the company of Ebenezer Howard, the founder of the garden city movement.[2] It was one of a series of convenience store chains established in the 1950s, the others being Premier and Victor Value.[3] By 1962 it had over 200 shops.[4]

The company was acquired by Associated British Foods in 1963.[5] ABF appointed James Gulliver to the post of chairman of Fine Fare in 1967; he continued to lead the business until 1972.[6] Seven years after the takeover by Associated British Foods the turnover had grown from £75 million to £200 million.[7] In 1978 Fine Fare bought the East Anglian based Downsway supermarket chain, which was owned by the Vestey family business, Union International Group. This added a further 80 stores to the group. Other chains purchased included Burton Supermarkets (Nottingham based), Elmos (East Anglian based) and Coopers (Scotland based in 1955).[8] The business was regularly listed as third in market share behind Sainsbury's and Tescos and had stores nationwide.

They also owned the Melias[9] and Shoppers Paradise[10] chains of convenience stores , and moved into the burgeoning DIY industry with their Fix and Fit stores (sold to WH Smiths Do it All in 1986).[11] In 1983, Fine Fare became Britain's first supermarket to sell organic foods.[12]

In 1986, ABF sold the company to The Dee Corporation (subsequently known as Somerfield).[13] Following this, all Dee Corporation's newly acquired stores were rebranded as Gateway or closed, and the Fine Fare name had disappeared by the end of the 1980s.

Fine Fare was perhaps most notable for its sponsorship of the Scottish Football League which commenced for the 1985-86 season (beginning August 1985)[14] to the 1987-88 season (which ended in May 1988, around the same time that the last Fine Fare stores closed).[15] The business also advertised on television with the most famous being fronted by the actor Gordon Jackson.[16]

Fine Fare was immortalised in the song "Aisle of Plenty" from the album Selling England by the Pound by the progressive rock band, Genesis.[17] It was also the subject of a song by the punk band The Toy Dolls called Nowt can compare to Sunderland Fine Fare from their fourth album Bare Faced Cheek.[18]

Branches[edit]

(This is not a definitive list and needs to be added to - April 2015)

Operations[edit]

Fine Fare's depots were at Welwyn Garden City (Hertfordshire), East Kilbride (Lanarkshire), Washington (Tyne & Wear), Cheadle Hulme (Stockport), Hucknall (Nottingham), Tuffley (Gloucester) and Aylesford (Kent). Shoppers Paradise only depots were at East Kilbride (Lanarkshire), Weedon (Northampton), Stevenage (Hertfordshire) and Alton (Hampshire). Washington also held stocks of non-food items for national distribution.

References[edit]

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