1882… Own-label arrives… Sainsbury’s becomes the first of today’s big retailers to launch an own-label offer - selling bacon smoked in in-store ovens to customers under the J Sainsbury name. By 1969 Sainsbury’s is selling more own label than branded goods.
1884… Marks sparks up… This isn’t just any market stall… When Russian-born refugee Michael Marks sets up his stall in Leeds’ Kirkgate Market selling nails, screws, soap and wooden spoons, the foundations of an empire are laid. Not until a decade later - when Thomas Spencer buys a stake in the 12 stores since set up - is the business firmly on its way to becoming the national institution it is today.
Fast forward to 1911 and Simon Marks, now at the helm of the business after the death of his father in 1905, buys the Arcadia chain of penny bazaars and begins selling food items such as biscuits, sweets and flour. By the outbreak of the Second World War, Marks & Spencer is one of the biggest food retailers in Britain and the pair have cultivated an eternal association with underwear and sandwiches.
1884… Sunlight soap cleans up… When Lever Bros launches Sunlight Soap it has some heady ideals - “to make cleanliness commonplace to lessen work for women to foster health and contribute to personal attractiveness”. In 10 years they’re selling 40,000 tons of the stuff.
1887… Candler puts the fizz in Coke… Visionary businessman Asa Candler buys into John Pemberton’s fizzy drink Coca-Cola - so named after the active ingredients that give it its kick: cocaine and kola nut. And so begins a sparkling business career. By the mid 1890s the US is hooked, with Coke being one of the country’s most popular fountain drinks. It’s not until 1898 that Coke’s only ever serious rival rocks up - Caleb Bradham launches what will later become Pepsi-Cola, named after the drink’s main active ingredient, the digestive aid pepsin.
1892… Toothpaste tubed…Toothpaste has been in jars until Washington Sheffield invents his collapsible metal toothpaste tube and fills it with Dr Sheffield’s Crème Dentrifice. It doesn’t make teeth cleaning any more palatable - toothpastes contain soap until the 1940s.
1894… Lyons launches… A British institution is born when the first Lyons Tea Shop opens in Piccadilly - the forerunner to today’s ubiquitous coffee shops (minus the smug type in the corner showing off his Macbook). With its nippy service, the shops pop up on streets across the country. In 1938 Lyons buys the Bee Bee Biscuit Co and begins selling biccies under the Lyons brand. In 1956 the company launches Maryland Cookies. Lyons Biscuits now belong to Burtons Foods. The era of the Lyons Tea Shops came to an end in 1981.
The Grocer's 150 defining moments: the 1860s
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The Grocer's 150 defining moments: the 1880s - 1890's