Home and Colonial Stores

Home and Colonial Stores
Industry Retail
Fate Name Change / Acquisition
Successor Allied Suppliers / Cavenham Foods
Founded 1883
Defunct 1961 / 1972
Headquarters London, UK
Key people
Julius Drewe (Founder) Lancelot Royle (Chairman & CEO)

Home & Colonial Stores was once one of the United Kingdom's largest retail chains. Its formation of a vast chain of retail stores in the late 1920s is seen as the first step in the development of a UK food retail market dominated by a small number of food multiples.


Shop assistants outside the Home and Colonial Stores on Broad Street, Waterford, May 1910

The business was founded by Julius Drewe who in 1883 went into partnership with John Musker selling groceries at a small shop in Edgware Road in London.[1] He subsequently opened stores in Islington, Birmingham and Leeds.[1] The shops mainly sold tea[1] and by 1885 they were trading as the Home & Colonial Tea Association.[1]

William Slaughter took over the Chairmanship of the business on incorporation in 1888.[1] By the turn of the century the Company had over 100 stores[2] and by 1903 it had 500.[1]

In 1924 Home and Colonial bought the share capital of Maypole Dairies of Wolverhampton from the Watson family.[3] Between 1924 and 1931, several stores, including Liptons merged with Home & Colonial to form a company with over 3,000 branches.[4] Within this period of rapid change, Home & Colonial formed Allied Suppliers to act as a buyer on behalf of the whole group.[5]

From 1948 until 1964 the group Chairman and CEO was Sir Lancelot Royle KBE. He had joined the group in 1928. By 1955 the company was ranked 27th largest in UK.[6]

By 1960, Home & Colonial Stores Ltd was still a major force in the UK food industry. With retail operations in the UK and abroad and factories in the UK, it was able to report a 10% rise in profits to £4,033,057.[7]

By 1961, reflecting the end of the British Empire, the group had restyled itself under the name of the company it created in 1929, Allied Suppliers. Early in 1972, Allied was acquired by Cavenham Foods, formed six years previously by British entrepreneur James Goldsmith. Melia's Grocers and Tea Dealers, another popular grocery chain at the time, was forced to amalgamate with the Home and Colonial company due to competition from larger national supermarkets.[8] In 1979 the business purchased the South East-based supermarket chain Cater Brothers from Debenhams and converted the stores into their Prestos brand.

By 1981, Allied had a turnover of £800m.[9] In the following year Allied was acquired by James Gulliver's Argyll Foods and five years later Argyll merged with Safeway UK.

In literature

Home and Colonial was one of three stores immortalised in a verse in John Betjeman's poem "Myfanwy":

Smooth down the Avenue glitters the bicycle,
Black-stockinged legs under navy blue serge,
Home and Colonial, Star, International,
Balancing bicycle leant on the verge.

In Dorothy Sayers' "Busman's Honeymoon" (1935), the "Home and Colonial" network is mentioned as maintaining a branch also at the small Herefordshire village where the book's plot is set - indicating its wide reach at the time of writing. A local woman tells Lord Peter Wimsey and his servant Bunter that groceries sold at the "Home and Colonial" are "better and half a penny cheaper" than those provided by the village's unaffilated grocer.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Julius Drewe at Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  2. 20th Century London Posters
  3. Clare, David. "Maypole Dairies". Wolverhampton History & Heritage. Retrieved 29 July 2014.
  4. Supermarkets; a report on the supply of groceries from multiple stores in the United Kingdom. Volume 2, page 8, The Competition Commission, October 2000
  5. Home & Colonial Stores, The Times, March 8, P.19, 1930
  6. Rise of Big Business
  7. The Times, The Home & Colonial Stores Ltd, May 11, 1960
  8. Practical grocer: a manual and guide for the grocer, the provision merchant and allied trades, Volume 1, W.H.Simmonds
  9. "Gulliver and his Expansive Travels", The Times, 6 July 1982, p21
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 10/18/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.