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Asda’s history: from 1960 to 2020

Take a trip down memory lane...

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Asda’s history: from 1960 to 2020

Founded in the early 1960s, we have always been committed to giving customers great value.

On 3 May 1965, the deal was sealed and a name was chosen. ASquith + DAiries = the birth of Asda!

From early beginnings as the UK’s first-ever food discounter to the return of our iconic ‘pocket tap’ in 2020, we’ve changed the way people shop forever.

Here’s a trip down memory lane...

The old proverb ‘mighty oaks from little acorns grow’ describes our journey well.

The family of Asda founders Peter and Fred Asquith owned a single butcher’s shop in the small town of Knottingley, West Yorkshire, dating back to the 1920s. 

But the two brothers were ambitious, with a keen eye for business, and looked further afield for inspiration.

During a trip to the USA in 1958, the Asquiths saw for themselves how beneficial ‘under one roof’ shopping was for customers.

A store with the quirky name Piggly Wiggly (which still exists today) blazed a trail for the modern supermarket.

They returned home, bought the old Queens Theatre in Castleford, West Yorkshire, and opened the UK’s first self-service shop, followed by another soon afterwards.

As the Asquiths’ venture went from strength to strength, Peter contacted Noel Stockdale at Associated Dairies, with a view to striking up a business partnership.

On 3 May 1965, the deal was sealed and a name was chosen ASquith + DAiries = the birth of the Asda we know and love!

The rest is history, but our mission to put our customers’ needs first and deliver great value continues to this day.

 

1960s: Genius ideas

When the Asquiths heard a soup firm was offering money orders for returned labels, they bought 1,000 tins and redeemed the labels.

Then they sold the soup in-store and passed on the discount directly to customers.

The food-discounting revolution had arrived – and we’ve been delivering great deals ever since!

 

1970s: The pocket tap

By the 1970s we’d expanded beyond our northern roots, with more than 30 stores nationwide.

Then, in 1977, we hit on the ad campaign that would cement us as a household name – the ‘Pocket Tap’.

It saw customers filling the aisles and quoting, ‘That’s Asda Price!’, while cheekily patting their bottoms – and it’s still loved today.

 

1980s: happy 100th

In 1981, our 100th supermarket was opened, followed by a fresh look for all stores in 1984 and a new head office in Leeds in 1988.

Own-brand groceries now offered even better value, and in 1989, we set style trends, too. We asked fashion guru George Davies to design a range of clothing – and our much-loved George brand was born.

 

1990s: Health matters

Ever since our first Asda Pharmacy opened in Harrogate in 1996, we’ve been passing on value to customers by offering free health checks and other services, including not-for-profit IVF medicines.

That year also saw the start of Tickled Pink, our campaign to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer charities – more than £68 million so far.

 

2000 and beyond: a winning streak

The past two decades have seen us launch George Home, plus a 100-day satisfaction guarantee across most of our own-label clothes and homewares.

Our commitment to value continued, and in 2017, at The Grocer Gold Awards, we were named the lowest-priced supermarket for the 20th year in a row.

 

2020: return of the tap 

Bringing us bang up to date, our cheeky yet iconic pocket tap is making a comeback, as we continue to help you ‘Save Money. Live Better.’

 

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