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Franklins was a supermarket chain selling packaged groceries and perishables throughout New South Wales, Australia. It created the No Frills brand of generic products, promoted by their mascot, "Red Sock," and labelled itself "Australia's Original Discount Grocer." Franklins also had stores in Queensland, Victoria and South Australia until 2001. In 2011 the entire chain was bought by Metcash and the stores are being sold off to independent buyers to operate as IGA supermarkets.
In 1941, Franklins was established in Sydney by Frank Lindstrom. It was his second supermarket chain, having sold his first one to Woolworths. In 1954, Franklins was acquired by Harold Cornock and Norman Tieck. Under their leadership it grew to cover much of New South Wales, and created a reputation for low prices.
Early Dairy Farm International (1978-1992)
In 1978, Cornock and Tieck sold the 75-store supermarket chain to Dairy Farm International, a member of the Jardine Matheson group, which maintained the chain's discount focus. Its turnover was A$1 million. Franklins launched its No Frills generic range of products (store brand). This was the first such range in Australia. The smaller stores' format were changed to revolve around this brand, selling little else, making them similar to Europe's Aldi. These stores became known as Franklins No Frills. In retaliation, Woolworths later launched "Home Brand" and Coles launched "Scotch Buy" (later rebranded as "Savings"). Around this time, Bi-Lo began operations in Adelaide, using a similar format to Franklins.
In 1989 Franklins opened its first store in South Australia. Franklins also launched FRFM, Franklins' own in-house radio station playing songs and advertising specials.
By 1989, Franklins had also expanded into the ACT, covering the east coast of mainland Australia and South Australia.
Late Dairy Farm International (1992-2001)
Throughout the 1990s, Dairy Farm International began to introduce new store concepts and branding ideas.
In 1990, Franklins opened attached liquor stores under the brand Liquor Save. Franklins also opened its 200th store the same year.
In 1992, Franklins Big Fresh was launched. This was a "food barn" format Dairy Farm had developed in New Zealand as "Big Fresh". Some existing stores were converted to this format, while others were newly built. These stores featured "outback" or farm style decorations, and animatronic displays which could be activated by customers - including singing chickens and dancing fruit. The first Franklins Big Fresh store opened in Leichhardt, and others were opened in Marrickville, Macquarie Centre and Gosford. The Gosford store featured a unique mini branch of the Commonwealth Bank within the store, as well as a small hairdressing kiosk. The hairdressing kiosk was rolled out to a number of other stores, although not all were the Big Fresh model. At the same time, Franklins started opening a few Mini Fresh stores in Queensland.
In 1994, Franklins launched Franklins Fresh, a mainstream supermarket format. In contrast to "Franklins No Frills" stores, they sold fresh produce, baked goods and meat as well as groceries. The "Fresh" part of the logo was similar to the one used by Big Fresh. It was designed to be a smaller version of Franklins Big Fresh. The first Franklins Fresh store opened in Engadine.
By the mid-1990s, Franklins supermarkets comprised five main chains:
- Franklins No Frills
- Franklins Mini Fresh
- Franklins Fresh
- Franklins Big Fresh
Full-service food barn/supermarket similar to Coles and Woolworths but pitched as being a bit cheaper. Most of them also had attached "Liquor Save" outlets. They were the only supermarket to have a store mascot - a chicken. Similar chains: Coles, Woolworths, Bi-Lo Mega Frrresh, Supa IGA, Action.
- Liquor Save
Bottle shops attached to a supermarket. Similar chains: Woolworths' Mac's Liquor (Now Woolworths Liquor), IGA Liquor, Coles' Liquorland.
In 1998, Franklins launched its first advertisement on TV with its first slogan, "More in your trolley for less". It also trial converts selected "No Frills" stores to "Franklins Fresh" and installs environmentally friendly fluorescent lighting in these stores. First Choice, an alternative (and short-lived) generic product range, is also launched. Franklins, Franklins Fresh and Franklins Big Fresh also launched their websites that year.
In 1999, Franklins opened new stores and upgraded former No Frills stores to Franklins Fresh stores and unveiled its new logo, which is still used today, though it was only in use at selected stores at first. Also due to the logo change, Franklins Fresh also unveiled a new logo. The "Liquor Save" outlets were also re-branded as Franklins Liquor (attached to selected No Frills and Fresh stores) or Big Fresh Liquor. It had also positioned itself by this time as the national discount supermarket operator.
Pick 'n Pay (2001-2010)
In 2001, Franklins' mass expansion and reformating ended in failure. Dairy Farm International exits from Australia in May, and many stores were sold to Woolworths (which got 67 stores), Coles, Foodland and IGA franchisees. A few closed. This saw the end of Franklins in the ACT, Queensland, Victoria and South Australia. 86 stores across New South Wales were sold to South African retailer Pick 'n Pay, which also bought the Franklins name. The "No Frills", "Fresh" and "Mini Fresh" brands survived. "Big Fresh" did not and nearly all were bought by Woolworths and Coles. Pick 'n Pay bought all but one of the 21 Fresco supermarkets and rebranded them as Franklins stores at the same time. The other was shut down. The new Franklins launched the "Saves You Money" slogan. In January Aldi launched in NSW, and quickly filled the void left by Franklins in many areas.
In 2002, Foodland Associated Limited bought 36 Franklins stores across Queensland and Northern NSW as well as its Queensland warehouse facilities. All were rebranded as Action supermarkets. This saw the end for the "Mini Fresh" brand. The "Fresh" and "No Frills" brands were also retired, although their formats remain. All stores more than 2000 square metres are effectively "Fresh" stores. Franklins was relaunched with the slogan "Look at us now!".
In 2003, Franklins changed its slogan to "That's what I like about Franklins!". It also announced that it is not interested in owning petrol stations like most of its competitors. Later that year, the "No Frills" generic product range and the brand itself is revamped and then promoted by its new mascot, "Red Sock".
In 2004, the Franklins website was relaunched and Franklins joined the widespread trend of selling green plastic carrier bags. The fourth Pick 'n Pay era slogan was launched - "Cheap and Cheerful". The liquor outlets were relaunched as Franklins Local Liquor, in addition to the Canberra-based liquor chain. The annual "Birthday Cash Jackpot" competition is also introduced.
In 2005, Franklins started setting up franchise opportunities under the "Franklins Family Supermarkets" brand (similar to the "Pick 'n Pay Family Supermarkets" brand). By that time, there were 80 Franklins supermarkets across New South Wales. The only Franklins store to open that year was the one in Newcastle. The Franklins store in Erina Fair on the Central Coast was also closed, soon replaced by Aldi.
On 30 January 2006, Franklins opened a purchased store in Ulladulla NSW to show potential franchisees the benefits of changing from IGA to Franklins. Also in 2006, Franklins launched its own loyalty club and begins changing a few stores to the franchise model. There were 77 Franklins stores by the end of 2006.
In 2007, some new stores were opened. Two existing Franklins stores and another two IGA stores were converted to Franklins Family supermarkets. By the end of 2007 there were 80 Franklins stores.
On 1 July 2010, it was announced that all 85 stores Franklins had been sold to Metcash for A$215 million, to become part of the IGA chain. The stores will be sold individually to independent retailers. Franklins has one store left in NSW and it is located at Westfield Miranda Shopping Centre.
Historically, Franklins never advertised due to it being a "no-frills" supermarket. Instead, it advertised specials at the stores, much like Aldi does now. Later, it advertised through their own catalogues, especially when it introduced fresh foods and liquor to its stores. But it was in 1998 when Franklins launched its first TV advertisement with the slogan "More in your trolley for less". Ironically, its rivals Woolworths and BI-LO launched their first advertisements around the same time and Coles was also given a new slogan, also at the same time. Shortly after Dairy Farm International exited the business in 2001, Franklins' advertisements used the slogan "Saves You Money". In 2002, the new Franklins was launched with the slogan "Look at us now!". In 2003 it was changed to "That's what I like about Franklins!" and again in 2004 to "Cheap and Cheerful". That slogan is now rarely used, being largely replaced with and branded as "Australia's Original Discount Grocer". The No Frills generic product range was relaunched in 2003 and promoted by its mascot "Red Sock" on TV advertisements and on its website. "Red Sock" now appears once every so often in the regular advertising on TV, radio, newspapers and catalogues for Franklins. In late 2009 Franklins changed back to the 2002 slogan "Look at us now!".
No Frills is Franklins' generic range of products. Launched in 1978, it was the first such brand range in Australia, and changed supermarket shopping habits in Australia. Franklins stores initially changed the store's format to revolve around the brand, selling little else. The "No Frills" name was also used up until 2002 for the name of the format Franklins had used which is best known for selling dry groceries and frozen perishables only.
Originally, the No Frills brand was only used for its peanut butter, honey and potato chips but has since expanded its range to more than 800 products in packaged groceries and perishables.
In late 2003, the "No Frills" generic product range and the brand itself had been revamped and was promoted by its new mascot, "Red Sock". Sold with a money-back guarantee, in many cases they’re market leaders in their categories.
The No Frills logo was also used by former British discount retailer Kwiksave.
The No Frills brand is also used Woolworths New Zealand Hong Kong supermarket and Diary Farm International subsidiary Wellcome.
First Choice was another generic range of products Franklins had sold. Launched in 1998, it was developed to provide an alternative to the leading brands and have products with quality equal to or better than the leading brands. The products didn't just have the quality but also had prices that were anywhere between 10-15% cheaper than the national brands.
First Choice had over 600 different products and new products were continually being developed everyday. The brand did not survive for long though and by the time Dairy Farm International exited the company in 2001, the brand was dropped, unlike No Frills which continues to be sold at Franklins to this day.
The First Choice brand is continued to be used by Hong Kong supermarket Wellcome.
- "SMH.com.au news article, 19 April 2001."
- "ACCC 22 May 2001."
- "Metcash to purchase Franklins". Inside Retailing Online. 1 July 2010. Retrieved 1 July 2010.
- "Franklins Supermarkets Australia website"
- Franklins Australia
- Franklins Online (pre-2001, location links work here)
- Franklins Online (2001)
- Dairy Farm Website - Franklins Page (Early 2001)