|Private company, subsidiary|
|Successor||The Dee Corporation|
|Headquarters||Welwyn Garden City, United Kingdom|
|James Gulliver, (chairman 1967–1972)|
|Parent||Howardsgate Holdings (1951–1963)
Associated British Foods (1963–1986)Dee Corporation (1986–1988)
|Subsidiaries||Melias, Shoppers Paradise|
The company started as a single supermarket in Welwyn Garden City in 1951, as an offshoot of the Welwyn Department Store owned by Howardsgate Holdings, the company of Ebenezer Howard, the founder of the garden city movement. It was one of a series of convenience store chains established in the 1950s, the others being Premier and Victor Value.
In January 1959, it won a court case against Brighton Corporation, which had insisted that its outlets closed on Wednesday afternoons under the Shops Act 1950. By 1962, it had over two hundred shops.
The company was acquired by Associated British Foods in 1963. ABF appointed James Gulliver to the post of chairman of Fine Fare in 1967; he continued to lead the business until 1972. Seven years after the takeover by Associated British Foods, the turnover had grown from £75 million to £200 million.
In 1974, 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 eighty stores to the group. Other chains purchased included Burton Supermarkets (Nottingham based), Elmos (East Anglian based) and Coopers (Scotland based in 1955).
The business was regularly listed as third in market share behind Sainsbury's and Tesco, and had stores nationwide. They also owned the Melias and Shoppers Paradise chains of convenience and discount food stores, and moved into the burgeoning DIY industry with their Fix and Fit stores (sold to WHSmith Do It All in 1986). In 1983, Fine Fare became Britain's first supermarket to sell organic foods.
In June 1986, ABF sold the company to The Dee Corporation (subsequently known as Somerfield). 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 sponsored the Scottish Football League for three years from the season of 1985–86 (beginning August 1985) to the season of 1987–88 (which ended in May 1988, around the same time that the last Fine Fare stores closed). The business also advertised on television, with the most famous being fronted by the actor Gordon Jackson.
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.
In popular culture
Fine Fare was immortalised in the song "Aisle of Plenty" from the album Selling England by the Pound by the progressive rock band, Genesis. It was also the subject of a song by the punk band Toy Dolls called 'Nowt Can Compare to Sunderland Fine Fare' from their fourth album Bare Faced Cheek.
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