Welwyn Garden's own supermarket chain
By Roger Filler
Although long gone now as a major name on the High Street, during the 1960s,70s and indeed into the 1980s, Fine Fare was one the country’s major supermarket chains and always had a close association with Welwyn Garden City. Founded in 1951, Fine Fare was an offshoot of its parent company Welwyn Department Stores, and in that year 10 small stores were opened, half in the Garden City and half in the surrounding area.
After purchasing Welwyn Bakery in Bridge Road, Canadian tycoon Garfield Weston bought the fledgling supermarket chain, through his company Associated British Foods in 1963. By 1970 it had over 1,000 retail outlets, half of them supermarkets, administered from Gate House on the corner of Howardsgate and Fretherne Road. The chain was sold in the mid 1980s to the Dee Corporation, becoming Gateway and then Somerfield.
Another connection with WGC is through Welwyn Builders. This company, set up in the early 1920s, built many of the early homes in town and at one time had a workforce of over 1,000. They were taken over by Fine Fare in 1948 when Welwyn Garden City was wound up via the New Towns Act, and eventually became Headway, the shop fitting for Fine Fare.
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