Discount Food Stores in the UK: Kwik Save and Shoprite

Following on the recent post on Axe Stores, I have dug out some of my early slides on Kwik Save and Shoprite and their stores.

I have written academically on both of these companies, quite some time ago.  For anyone interested the pdfs of a number of these papers should be able to be downloaded from the links below.

(with Lord J D, Moran W and Parker A J) Retailing on Three Continents : the discount food store operations of Albert Gubay.  International Journal of Retailing, 3(3), 1-54 (1988).

Spatial-Structural Relationships in Retail Corporate Growth : a case study of Kwik Save Group P.L.C.  Service Industries Journal, 10(1), 25-84 (1990).

Restructuring Scottish Grocery Retailing : the rise and demise of Shoprite and Wm Low. International Journal of Retail and Distribution Management, 23,10, 28-36 (1995).

Investment Recommendations and Commercial Reality in Scottish Grocery Retailing. Service Industries Journal, 16, 165-190 (1996).

Challenge and Change: Shoprite and the restructuring of grocery retailing in Scotland, Environment and Planning A, 28, 261-284 (1996).

Kwik Save began in North Wales in the 1950s and was founded by Albert Gubay (see my post on him here).  Gubay was a charismatic entrepreneur who went on to found retailers in four countries and build a large property business.  Kwik Save was the UK’s pre-eminent discounter for a number of decades, albeit of the ‘soft’ variety compared to European models.

The slides presented below are scanned versions of 35mm slides I obtained via Grahame Seabrook.  They show the very basic style of discounting that existed in the 1960s.

By the early 1990s, foreign discounters were entering the UK (Aldi, Lidl and Netto) and an Isle of Man company – Shoprite – saw an opportunity to expand into the UK.  Its first store was in Bridge of Allan near the University and the photos below show its exterior and interior (plus exteriors of Linloithgow and East Kilbride).  Shoprite expanded rapidly in Scotland but then rather ‘crashed and burned’ and failed to make its mark.

It is of note that the impact of the German discounters was a very slow burn.  They rather missed the British market in the 1990s and were fought off by incumbent major retailers.  They did rethink, relaunch and played a long game of meeting British market needs.  The recession of 2007/8 proved important as well and the result is a combined c15% market share today.  Both Kwik Save and Shoprite are no more.

As a footnote to this, it was announced that the Co-operative Group (who had taken over the Shoprite Bridge of Allan site) had obtained planning permission to knock down and rebuild the original Shoprite store.

About Leigh Sparks

I am Professor of Retail Studies at the Institute for Retail Studies, University of Stirling, where I research and teach aspects of retailing and retail supply chains, alongside various colleagues. I am Chair of Scotland's Towns Partnership. I am also a Deputy Principal of the University, with responsibility for Education and Students.
This entry was posted in Albert Gubay, Aldi, Axe Stores, Bridge of Allan, Cooperatives, Discounters, Food Retailing, Kwik Save, Lidl, Netto, Retail Failure, Retail History, Retailers, Shoprite, Wm Low and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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