longwhitekid

Archive for the ‘IGA Stores’ Category

Product Puzzle: UNA and the Grocers United Stores

In Associated Wholesalers Ltd (AWL), Baking Powder, Chapman Bros, Countdown supermarkets, Dollarwise supermarkets, Family Fare convenience stores, Foodmaster convenience stores, G.U.S. Stores, G.U.S. Wholessaling, Grocer's United Stores, IGA Stores, Independent Grocers Alliance NZ Ltd, J. B. Rattray, Jellishus Jelly Crystals, Magnum Corporation, Pricecutter supermarkets, Progressive Enterprises, Rattray & Sons Ltd teas, Rothman Industries (NZ), Super 7 supermarkets, Super Value Supermarket Group, Super Value supermarkets, Target Stores, UNA brand, Uncategorized, Woolworth's supermarkets, Woolworths on August 30, 2012 at 10.46

With a little help from fellow foodstuffs freak Mike Davidson, who recently uncovered a rare cookbook brochure and asked me what I knew about it, I have been able to find out a bit more about the South Island enterprise “G U.S.” , the Grocer’s United Stores – which were quite a large chain of stores in New Zealand in the late 1920s to the 1950s (that I am aware of) – and subsequently link it to my story recently on IGA, which almost asked more questions than it gave answers:

https://longwhitekid.wordpress.com/2012/06/10/the-shopping-cart-cartel-iga-stores/

Top: recreation of a UNA brand baking powder label from a photo of an old can, above. The tin likely dates from the late 1930s- early 1940s.
a

The only item that I had ever seen thus far at auction was a baking powder tin for the “UNA” label, which cropped up last year in a lot of old household tins, and was G.U.S. Wholesaling’s self brand. I have recreated it here.

Grocers United Stores recipe book, image courtesy of Mike Davidson collection.
a

I have records in my database that in the 1930s – jelly crystals, tea, coffee, canned fruits, vinegar ,cocoa, cornflour and fly bands (which I think are some kind of fishing weights), medicines (non-specific, and possibly referring to a line including) cod liver oil, were being produced under the UNA label.

Intelligent and painstaking: Ellesmere Guardian, July 1940.
a

By the early 1940s the UNA range also comprised of custard powder, baking powder, cooking oil, jam including home-made orange marmalade, lemon marmalade and lemon honey, olive oil, chocolate cake filling, coffee essence, soap, fly reels, salt, honey, floor polish, canned peas, “Six-In-One” skin lotion, tomato sauce, lino polish, Spanish cream, instant chocolate custard, and an exotic sounding instant dessert named “Sno Foam”. Cornflour , jelly crystals, honey, and biscuits of several varieties, were simultaneously marketed under the G U.S. brand in the 1940s. “Jellishus” was another brand of jelly crystals produced by the company at that time.

IGA truck being loaded and secured for delivery, showing G.U.S. Wholesaling details on it. Probably early 1960s. Christchurch City Library collection, ref HW10-Ho-137
a

G.U.S. was launched in 1928 as a co-op (given that every store remained privately owned and the proprietor intensely vetted before being signed up) by E.F. and S. J. Chapman; and very quickly they had built up 15 stores. By 1948 that had multiplied to a very impressive 167 stores. Still, way behind the Self Help chain and – especially Four Square, which I covered in this article here

https://longwhitekid.wordpress.com/2012/08/07/power-outlet-the-force-of-four-square-and-foodstuffs-nz-ltd/

It is true they had been left in the dust by both of those other co-ops come the late 1940s, yet somehow G.U.S. was very able to compete and build their organisation against those two industry giants over the decades – in particular Foodstuffs (Christchurch) Ltd which was successful enough during this period to finally bite the bullet and open a massive Southland warehouse in 1956. So although G.U.S. Stores are truly forgotten now, it’s quite likely that they were in actual fact the third largest chain of grocery co-op stores in New Zealand in the first two thirds of the twentieth century.

G.U.S. store on corner of Welles and Manchester streets, Christchurch city. This looks like it was taken in the 1930s, and the supermarket remained until the 1960s when it moved to Chappie Place, Hornby. Christchurch City Library collection, ref HW10-Ho-135
a

To bolster their success in the 1930s, the Chapman brothers also launched a chain of stores named “Target” (no relation to the international department store chain of today), again a co-op made up of individual private owners, with the slogan “where the housewife scores!” Although not grocery orientated per se, this was dependant on the nature of the individual business – but they were more akin to the modus operandi of Woolworths, MacDuffs and McKenzies during that period – with a focus on household items as well as decorative gewgaws. Again had their own self line including butter. I had seen a picture in one of Richard Wolfe’s books and always wondered about this mysterious chain over the years; now I have stumbled over the link via the UNA tea advert I have posted here, I know.

1934 Grocers United company Picnic, Amberley Park. The use of the IGA letterhead indicates that the Hawkins shops were once upon a time G.U.S. stores. Christchurch City Library collection, ref HW10-Ho-134
a

Somehow I missed a bunch of material whilst researching my IGA story a short while back which would have told me, as it turns out, that IGA (Independent Grocers Alliance NZ Ltd) was launched in New Zealand under the umbrella of G.U.S. Wholesaling, so I imagine that although there were probably a lot of new shops created, most of the stores that were part of Grocers United Stores may also have been re-branded to IGA.

The trend of the day may have been IGA, but this delivery truck still has G.U.S. details on the cab; probably late 1950s. Christchurch City Library collection, ref HW10-Ho-136
a

Eventually, as the decades passed, all the stores under the G.U.S. banner were split across a few chain brands: SuperValue (around as far back as the late 1960s that I know of), Dollarwise, Pricecutter, IGA and Super 7  convenience stores (all still have branches open as far as I can see), while G.U.S. Wholesaling became known as the “Super Value Supermarket Group“.

This map shows locations of Grocers United Stores in 1948. image courtesy of Mike Davidson collection.
a

The J.B. Rattray Group , who got their start in teas – particularly three very successful brands: Tiger (1890s-1980s), Gold Leaf (1890s-1930s), and Edglets (post 1940s), and established the very successful Countdown supernmarkets in 1981 – purchased the Super Value group in 1991.

Some of the UNA brand line, advertised in the Ellesmere Guardian, September 1943.
a

In Alistair Pringle’s “New Worlds and Fresh Choices?” he writes : “Through its subsidiary J.B. Rattray, Magnum (Enterprises) first purchased the former Woolworths-owned, Auckland-based Associated Wholesalers Ltd (AWL)…(acquiring) seven North Island warehouses and 130 independently owned Foodmaster and Family Fare convenience stores”. This apparently occurred in 1992. Since the Super Value Supermarket Group merged with Woolworths in 1979, according to another source, presumably this was included in the deal along with the five brands I mentioned above.

A Chapman Bros’s Target Store, probably snapped in the mid 1930s. Image courtesy of Richard Wolfe and Stephen Barnett’s book “New Zealand: In Praise of Kiwiana”, 1989.
a

Magnum Corporation were the owners of  Rothman Industries (NZ) at the time and acquired Rattray in the mid 1980s as a subsidiary part of Rothman. They went on to gobble up Progressive Enterprises also (which included Foodtown, Three Guys, and Georgie Pie).

Advert for Target Stores from the Ellesmere Guardian, March 1934.
a

Yeah, and then there were some more mergers, acquisitions and takeovers which I could go on about, but I am going to call it a day. It’s so convoluted it’s like a set of Babushka Dolls with enterprises that fit one inside the other, inside another one – until it becomes completely confusing to the layman.

Advert for UNA brand tea for the Ellesmere Guardian, November 1933, shows reference to both G.U.S. “United” stores as well as “Target”.
a

My conjecture is that – while the actual company retained the G.U.S. name, the brand had disappeared by the late 1950s, subsumed by the glitzier American offering of IGA. which in the post-war years held fresh appeal for consumers obsessed with Yankee-style convenience – over fusty personal service all wrapped up in a plain brown paper wrapper, and trussed up in string.

Advertisements

The Shopping Cart Cartel: IGA Stores

In Anchor, Choysa Tea, Creemee Icecream, Davids Metcash Trading Limited, Fielder's Cornflour, Gregg's, IGA Stores, Independent Grocers Alliance NZ Ltd, Kornies cereal, O-Tis oatmeal, Oak, Palm corned beef, Red Band Biscottes, Shreddo cooking suet, St. George, Suntang Tea, Vita-Brits cereal on June 10, 2012 at 10.46

IGA, which stood for Independent Grocers Alliance (NZ Ltd), launched in the Antipodes in 1955. Originally, it was an American concept founded in 1926. IGA was started when a group of 100 independent retailers in Poughkeepsie, New York, and Sharon, Connecticut, led by J. Frank Grimes, organized themselves into a single marketing system. This group quickly expanded, and by the end of the year there were more than 150 IGA retailers in the U.S. In 1930 there were over 8,000 grocery stores using the IGA name. Today IGA is still the world’s largest voluntary supermarket chain with over 4,000 independent stores in 41 different countries.

IGA, Glen Innes. Constructed by The Fletcher Construction Company 1959, Courtesy of the Fletcher Trust Archives, 19599078P-35

a

IGA was brought to Australia by Davids Holdings in the late 1980s when 10 stores initially became members of IGA. This company is now known as Metcash Trading Limited, which has the rights to use the IGA name in four Aussie states as well as New Zealand – for the wholesale distribution of goods to all IGA stores.

Not much else is known about the history of the original IGA in New Zealand – although it appears that the concept entirely bypassed Australia and made its way straight there.

 Recreation of a  paper grocery bag design from a Dunedin IGA, apparently phased out some time in the 1960s.

a

Jacqueline Crompton Ottaway writes an interesting story here about her grandfather’s Freeman’s Bay store from the 1950s-1970s:

http://www.nzine.co.nz/views/iga_store.html?Rcat=History&Tcat=Growing_Up_In_NZ

Although, it doesn’t mention any brands per se, excepting Palm corned beef.

IGA board game circa early 1960s.

a

IGA seemed to be around until the mid 1970s as promotional tea towels festooned with their wares attest (IGA, like Four Square, had a number of promotional items like calendars, games, and the aforementioned kitchen helpers) . The last reference I can find is a Dunsandel, Canterbury IGA store operating in 1974.

IGA advertisement, circa late 1960s

a

Some of my recent Trade Me purchases of the last year or so which I have featured here include this board game with a neat ad for their self brand of tea “Suntang“. I’d never heard of it until I saw this (or Instant Toddy for that matter – and I still don’t know who was responsible for manufacturing it, perhaps like Suntang it was an IGA self product, but usually chains stuck to the household basics for their own brands; tea, cornflour, soap, jelly crystals, baking powder, butter, custard, etc ). Also featured are some of their most popular products including Gregg’s, St George, Choysa and Anchor – as well as Red Band biscottes which I wrote about here previously

https://longwhitekid.wordpress.com/2011/09/01/band-of-old/

I’d date this item at around 1961.

IGA advertisement, circa late 1960s

a

Today IGA in New Zealand stands for Independent Grocers Australia. The Ocker version launched in 1988 – Much like Peter’s Ice cream which was popular in the 1930s and didn’t reappear in the land of the long white cloud until the 1990s – IGA returned in time as a completely new version.

Frontage of E.G. Roberts’  IGA grocery store, Himenoa Street, Birkenhead. Courtesy of Auckland Council, Local History Online, Image ID T7554.

a

Interior of E.G. Roberts’ IGA grocery store, Himenoa Street, Birkenhead. Courtesy of Auckland Council, North Shore History Online and Takapuna Library, Image ID T7557. Both images are dated as 1952, although this cannot be possible since IGA was not introduced to the country until three years after that.

a

a

Addendum September 2012: Somehow I missed a bunch of material whilst researching my IGA story which would have told me, as it turns out, that IGA was launched in New Zealand under by G.U.S. Wholesaling (G.U.S, UNA, and Target brands) and later re-branded to SuperValue amongst other banners. See the article here: 

https://longwhitekid.wordpress.com/2012/08/30/product-puzzle-una-and-the-grocers-united-stores/

a