About Asda

Asda through the years - a story of innovation and saving you money

1920s – 1950s
A group of Yorkshire farmers were responsible for writing the first chapter in the history of Asda when they formed Hindell’s Dairies in the 1920s. After a successful period which saw them expand and diversify the company was floated in 1949 as Associated Dairies and Farm Stores Ltd.

At the same time the American GEN group arrived in the UK with the idea of opening large stores filled with separate stores. The idea failed to catch the imagination of British shoppers and GEN was soon looking to sell its UK holding.

1950s – 1960s
In 1958 two brothers, Peter and Fred Asquith, opened a supermarket in Pontefract and within five years they had a chain of self-service supermarkets – Queen’s Supermarkets – that proved hugely popular. They offered “Permanent Reductions” and 8pm opening on Fridays – and there were often queues of customers round the block. The Asquiths worked 18-hour days to meet demand but, despite their success, the brothers needed more financial backing to expand.

the first purpose built Asda supermarket

In 1965 Associated Dairies and Asquiths did a deal to merge and create Asda Stores Ltd – the name being a marriage of the two parties: Asquith + Dairies. The new company bought the GEM chain in 1965, relaunching the stores in the Asda Queen’s name.

After Associated Dairies bought out the Asquith Brothers in 1968 the Asda name was owned by just one company.


The 1970s were successful years with new stores opening and some high profile acquisitions being made, including Allied Retailers and a number of Gateway stores. By the end of the decade business was booming and Asda was selling everything from baked beans to motor cars!

The famous Asda price TV ads featuring customers tapping their pockets were first screened in 1977, and soon the iconic Asda “pocket tap” became synonymous with saving money. Many celebrities appeared in the ads tapping their pockets – including Julie Walters, Hattie Jaques and Leonard Rossitor.

Asda in the 1970s

Times were hard during the 1980s but there were still success stories, such as the creation of the George Davis Partnership which led to George clothing being introduced into 65 Asda stores in 1989.

Asda’s recovery began with the appointment of Archie Norman and Allan Leighton who in 1991 set out an ambitious plan for turning things around – at the heart of which was a focus on restoring value to the heart of the Asda brand, revolutionising internal communications and promoting colleague involvement.

The plan was a success and customers soon began returning to a revitalised Asda that had returned to its roots with its promise of saving you money every day.

In June 1999, now a successful company once more, Asda was bought by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and became part of the world’s biggest and best retailer.

During a busy decade of growth a number of new areas were added to the Asda business.

Asda Living stores began popping up across the UK and Asda.com and the non-food online business Asda Direct were launched along with Asda Financial Services and a host of own label brands. The Asda Home Shopping service was also expanding rapidly.

Asda continues to grow and with the launch of more than 100 new local Asda Supermarkets we’re bringing everyday low prices closer to home. By August 2011 there were 523 Asda stores with many more on their way.

Posted in About Asda on 02 December 2011