Welcome to Delving Deep.
In this edition we are going to take a look at The Home and Colonial Stores.
Once the largest retail chain store, this is seen as the first steps in the growth of the UK retail food market. The business was found by Julius Drewe in 1883 who then went into partnership with John Musker selling groceries in Edgeware Road, London. On the back of that success further stores opened in Islington London, Birmingham and Leeds. The shops mainly sold tea and by 1885 they were trading as the Home and Colonial Tea Association.Over the coming years the stores became successful. In 1900 there were 100 stores and just three years later this had risen to 500.
During the period of 1924 – 1931 several other businesses merged with the Home and Colonial, including Liptons, who retained their own name, to create a company of over 3,000. At this point the business now formed Allied Suppliers to act as a buyer on behalf of the whole group.
By 1955 the company was the 27th largest in the United Kingdom. A mere five years later, the company was a major source in the retail food industry. The group restyled itself under the company it formed back in 1929, Allied Suppliers in 1961.
In 1972 Allied Suppliers was acquired by Caversham Foods who had formed six years prior. Although the business was acquired they continued to operate under the name of Allied Supplier. In 1981 Allied Suppliers had an annual turnover of £800 million pounds and in 1982 the group was acquired by James Gulliver’s of Argyll Foods. Six years later Argyll Foods merged with Safeway UK, who was subsequently acquired by the UK supermarket chain Morrisons in 2005.
Julius Drewe was initially a tea buyer where he purchased tea in the Far East on behalf of his uncle. His foresight so successful he was able to retired at the rather young age of 33. Believing he was descended from the Drogo family of Drewsteignton Devon, ironically about 15 miles from where I sit writing this article, Drewe who added the “e” to his name arranged for a castle to be built in the village. The castle, known as Castle Drogo, which had great influence by the Victorian designer Edwin Lutyens was finally finished in 1930. The Castle remained in the family until 1974 when it was given to the National Trust who still own it today.
Currently the Castle is in the process of undergoing a substantial and costly renovation. The main issues are with the windows and roof and the renovation will enable this lovely building to be maintained for future generations to enjoy.