The History of ASDA & Where it is Now

What is ASDA?

ASDA is one of the UK’s leading British supermarkets. They’re headquartered here in God’s own County, Leeds in West Yorkshire to be exact.

This supermarket is known for selling a variety of food products at a reasonable price. However, over the years they’ve branched out into other sectors. These include ASDA Living which household items such as toasters, kettles, and teapots. Another is George which sells clothes, shoes, and accessories for people of all ages.

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The Beginning of ASDA

ASDA’s popular supermarket chain dates all the way back to the 19th Century. This was when pasteurisation was first introduced.

In the 1900’s, dairy farmers from the Skipton area teamed up. They created a milk factory which produced 500 gallons every day. One man named Arthur Stockdale owned a milk wholesaling business. This was located in Grassington within the Yorkshire Dales.

In the 1920’s, Arthur and a few other farmers joined together. They formed Hindell’s Dairy Farmers Ltd and The Craven Dairies Ltd. This group was the first to supply sterilised milk within the Leeds area. In 1949, Hindell’s became “Associated Dairies and Farm Stores Ltd” along with other dairies, bakers, and butchers also joined. Arthur Stockdale was the managing director.

A year later, other businesses decided to join. Associated Dairies and Farm Stores Ltd then expanded into most of Yorkshire and the North East. In 1963, the company dropped “Farm Stores” from their name. They then became “Associated Dairies Ltd”.

Whilst the business was expanding, a group called the American GEN group was experimenting. Their idea was to fill larger stores with smaller stores which ultimately failed.

Two brothers from a butcher’s in Pontefract tried the same idea. However, they proved to be successful – let’s put that down to their Yorkshire roots. These brothers were called Peter and Fred Asquith. They created their first supermarket in the Queen’s Theatre in Castleford.

In 1963, there was a newspaper advert about Queen’s Supermarket. It promised customers “permanent reductions”. These reductions meant that the resale price would be overlooked. This allowed manufacturers to fix their own retail price, taking advantage of its abolition in 1964.

Both Peter and Fred decided to offer late night openings. On Friday’s, The Queen’s Supermarket remained open until 8pm. The Asquith brothers became successful. However, it wasn’t long before they needed financial backing to expand.

Peter had a meeting with Arthur Stockdale’s son, Noel Stockdale. Eric Binns who was the vice president and managing director of Associated Dairies also joined them.

On the 3rd May, 1965, the Asquith brothers sold their stores to Associated Dairies. The brothers, plus Noal and Eric Stockdale, became joint managing directors. As a result, the name ASDA was created. ‘AS’ from Asquith, and ‘DA’ from Dairies. However there are rumours that the ‘AS’ was from Associated.

How ASDA became what it is today – a short history of success

Later on in the year of 1965, ASDA expanded again. This led them to buy the GEM chain stores and rebrand as ASDA Queen. In September of the same year, ASDA opened more shops. They opened their first stores in South Elmsall, West Yorkshire.

In 1968, they bought out the Asquith brothers. Throughout the 1970’s, ASDA continued to expand into other business areas. These included estate agents and car sales however they didn’t last long. In 1977, the first advert of the famous “pocket tap” was aired.

On the 19th of October 1987, ASDA went through a difficult time. They were affected by the Black Monday stock market crash. The company had bought retailers such as MFI and Allied Carpet. They then sold them and changed their name to ASDA Group Ltd.

The supermarket also sold their dairy subsidiaries. This meant that all connections with the companies that originally helped form ASDA’s name were no longer. Because of this, ASDA could expand. They bought roughly 90 of their rival Gateway stores.

ASDA came across another breakthrough for the business. This came from a partnership with popular British fashion designer George Davis. In 1989, this led ASDA to introduce the “George” brand. Since then they have continued to sell clothes, shoes, and accessories.

During the 1990’s, Archie Norman became the new chief executive. He brought a new vision and progress to the company. ASDA began to choose a different way on how they marketed themselves. They modelled their supermarkets in the same style as the world’s leading retail company Walmart.

Due to ASDA’s success, Walmart purchased the supermarket in 1999. Because of the added investment, during the 2000’s, ASDA became one of the ‘big four’ supermarket chains in the UK. 

Their new headquarters is now located on the riverside in Leeds, West Yorkshire. ASDA also bought chains such as Safeway and Netto. As of 2020, ASDA has won the annual ‘Grocer Golds’ industry award – cheapest supermarket award – for 22 years.

Where is ASDA now?

In October 2020, ASDA was purchased by the Issa brothers. Zubar and Mohsin bought the supermarket chain for £6.8 billion.

The brother’s started their business when they bought a petrol forecourt located in Bury, Greater Manchester in 2001. Since then, they have rapidly grown their business.

EG Groups now owns more than 5,200 petrol stations. They also have over 33,000 employees. With the Issa brothers investment, ASDA is British owned again. This is the first time in 21 years.

We’re glad to have them back.