The chic Booths supermarket chain, nicknamed the ‘Waitrose of the North’, opened almost 200 years ago with a loan of £ 80.
The luxury grocery store was founded in June 1847 by Edwin Henry, a 19-year-old tea merchant, when he opened a shop called China House in Blackpool.
It now has 28 stores in the north of England, including three in Yorkshire, in Ilkley, Ripon and Settle.
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The founding philosophy of the store is: “Sell the best products available, in attractive stores, staffed with first class assistants”
Edwin was able to pay off the £ 80 debt just three months later, before opening his second tearoom in Chorley in 1855.
In 1863, he made the decision to sell wines and spirits and then opened another store in Lytham in 1879 and in Blackburn in 1884.
Edwin’s eldest son John took over the running of the family business in 1899 and made the decision to open cafes in stores three years later.
In 1920, he invited all staff to buy a stake in the company and had over 250 shareholders in 2011, with no individual holding more than 12% of the total shares.
Despite a period of success during the years of the Great War, the company struggled due to the post-austerity of WWII and the social revolution that was taking place.
Between the 1950s and 1980s, Booths began incorporating skilled trades into its stores such as bakers, greengrocers, butchers, fishmongers, and confectioners.
In 1962, the first of the Booths stores was converted to self-service and new warehouses were built to serve the expanding product line.
The upscale supermarket has been in the Booth family since its inception, and current chairman Edwin J. Booth is the fifth generation of owners.
Speaking in a book published in 2008, Graham Booth said the store’s values have remained constant since its inception.
Graham said: “It’s amazing to look back and see Booths go from their humble roots to the successful business that they are today.
“So much has changed, but in many ways the business remains the same.
“Booths is still run by the same family and its values remain constant: to offer customers the best quality products in attractive stores managed by welcoming staff.
“It’s a recipe that worked in 1847 and continues to work in 2008.”
In 2014, the chain launched its “fair milk” and increased the price of farm milk by 34.4 pence per liter per year – and paid farmers more for their milk than any other supermarket.
And the following year, they were named Independent Retail Chain of the Year at the Grocer Gold Awards.
The Ilkley branch has seen a number of updates this year in its post-Covid redesign, including a new bakery and chocolatier counter.
Announcing the move, they said: “Our bakery area will be reinvented and will host a brand new chocolatier counter stocked with the amazing British chocolate from Montezuma.
“You’ll find hand-finished truffles, giant chocolate buds and several delicious varieties of their signature Choc O Block, all of which can be gift wrapped on request.
“There will be a selection of delicious pastries from our Lancashire favorites, Lathams of Broughton and Studio Bakery, as well as a selection of breads and pastries from new supplier, The Bread Factory.”
In the same branch, they announced that the lights were replaced by “more environmentally friendly” LEDs.
Despite their exorbitant prices, supermarkets have been widely praised by their customers for their “one-stop shopping experience”.
Another rave review was left by Melanie Denyer who said she “loved this little supermarket”.
She said: “I love this little supermarket and would like it to be closer to my home.
“The fresh produce is always excellent, and everything is laid out in an inviting way, on a more human scale.
“The overall product line is somewhat eclectic and certainly different from the supermarkets in Skipton, which is closer to us.
“The store staff are knowledgeable and friendly, and always willing to go above and beyond to be helpful, which is greatly appreciated by this customer with a disability.
“It’s definitely worth paying the extra – it’s not what you’ll find here like Tesco and Morrison – for both service and product quality.
“The butcher’s and fishmongers’ counters offer good quality, fresh produce and lots of inspiration for how to prepare them if you want to try something new.
“Well worth a visit. I make a point of stopping there if I’m passing through, or if I need a slightly more exotic ingredient that I can’t find closer to home.
Helen Gilyard also left a rave review on Google, which said the “polite, friendly and knowledgeable” staff made her experience at the Ilkley branch “a treat.”
She said: “I love shopping in the cabins at Ilkley store. Great offers too and since the refurbishment of the store it is a pleasure.
“Love the new plant section when entering the store. Exquisite plants and gifts. Daniel in this section was so polite, friendly and knowledgeable.
“Made the whole shopping experience a treat.”
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