At the end of July I received an email from a freelance journalist, Steve Cain, seeking any information on Food Giant and Axe Stores. In normal times I know I had material somewhere in my office on Food Giant. But Axe Stores rang no bells with me. I tried a couple of colleagues, and Steve Burt responded as below:
This then led to a more detailed focused search via Google (the clue was PAM) which revealed the following piece in a book by Christopher Moir and John Dawson (Chapter by Grigor McClelland – Founder of the Manchester Business School, whose family firm was Laws Stores)
More importantly perhaps it led to Facebook page and a picture of an Axe Store and a post by an ex-manager.
For Steve Cain’s purpose this was fine and he has used the material in a piece which is published today in a host of local newspapers, and can be downloaded below. It contains the Axe photo from Facebook as above.
Beyond marvelling at the memory and database of my colleague, the outcome about Axe Stores was of some interest generally, but raises some questions about retail history and internationalisation.
We do not know why an Italian company chose to come to the UK. The choice of Hintons is a little ‘left-field’ to say the least. Why did this relationship break up?
Steve Burt’s memory was of a north-east of England chain, so the link to the stores in the South-West of England was unexpected. But why would you run stores in two such dispersed parts of England? How did this work and how was it managed? Why did Axe Stores end? On these questions we have no answers … yet.
Steve Cain’s piece is about things we had forgotten that no longer existed in the food discount retail field. Whilst circumstances meant I could not help on Food Giant (I know I have more) I at least learnt something about a chain I knew nothing about.
There is more to learn though and if anyone has anything of interest about Axe Stores please get in touch.
This episode has encouraged me to dig out my old 35mm slide collection of retail stores, much of which was scanned 15 years ago. I know that has a lot of 1970s and 1980s photos including interiors of discount stores of the time. I can see an intermittent series of posts coming on these and other oddities.