Sunday, 19 July 2015


In a previous post I looked into the big four UK supermarkets but there are lots of other places to buy groceries.

Neither The Co-op Store nor Scotmid (Scottish Midlands Co-operative Society) are multinationals.  They both run on co-operative principals.  They are democratic in that everyone over 16 can become a member and gets a say in the business.  Another excellent value is equality as no matter how many shares you own you still have only 1 vote.  They support fair-trade and also have a community grant fund so you can apply for funding for your organisation.  The Co–op is a good place to spend your money!

Waitrose is another ethical store; all their workers have a share in the business, except maybe the cleaners who are contracted out. There is a petition to rectify this (  They also champion fair-trade products, UK suppliers and are trying to reduce their packaging and CO2 emissions.  Unfortunately they only have stores in Morningside and Stockbridge both of which are miles from my house.  Maybe you will be more fortunate where you live? 

Just did some more research. Sainsbury's has supply offices in Hong Kong, China and Bangladesh. Waitrose has franchises in the United Arab Emirates, Isle of Man and the Falkland Islands. So these are both multinationals. Boo. It looks like I will be shopping in the co-op and local butchers from now on.

More news.  I knew John Lewis had concessions in the Far East but apparently Waitrose has a whole store in Dubai which makes both of them unavailable to me in my project to avoid multinationals

Now we are onto the corner shop associations.

NISA Stores are also not multinationals as NISA stands for Northern Independents Supermarket Association, and are a UK only entity.  They too have a charity offshoot called Making a Difference Locally and give money to local charities 

Spar is an interesting organisation; it was founded in Holland in 1932 and is now the world’s largest international food retail chain in 34 countries.  However Spar is a  ‘symbol’ group, which means individual SPAR members retain their independence but enjoy the advantages of belonging to a global brand.  It is like the shop has a multinational partner therefore I am going to boycott Spars too!  By the way the logo is a tree as de spar is Dutch for spruce.

McColl's Corporate logoMcColl’s is the convenience store side of the company Martin McColl which includes Martin’s or R S McColl for the newsagent side of the business.  It only exists in the UK.

Owned by independent retailers, Mace stores are in themselves not multinationals but Mace is part of Costcutter Supermarkets Group which is a predominantly franchise business trading under Costcutter, Mace, kwiksave and Supershop, throughout the UK and Republic of Ireland BUT, and it is a big but, the Costcutter group is wholly owned by the Bibby Line Group which is a multinational.

I did not know where to place franchises like Mace etc who are owned by individual but getting services from a multinational.  After a lot of thought and talking it through with sympathetic friends I decided that I would boycott franchises of Multinationals.  I am in the fortunate position of living in a city where I have a great choice however I am not going to worry about the occasional pint of milk.

The last kind of food shop I am going to look at is the dedicated freezer shop.  I can only think of two Farmfoods and Iceland.  Farmfoods originated in Aberdeen in 1955 and has over 300 shops throughout the UK.  Iceland however is a multinational as it has shops in the UK, Ireland and the Czech Republic which is a shame as over the years has taken all the artificial flavourings, colourings, MSG, mechanically recovered meat and genetically modified ingredients out of its own brand foods.  

I am sure there are food store chains I have missed but leave note in comments and I will have a look for you.  If you are in doubt about your local shop, ask them!



  1. Very wise to reject franchises. A lot of Starbucks and MacDonalds are franchises.

  2. Probably not posh enough for Edinburgh but what about Premier Stores?

    1. Premier Stores are part of the Booker Group, although the shop itself is owned by individuals they agree to buy a certain amount of the stock from Booker and get to use the logo etc. Booker Ltd is a multinational, has shops in India amoung others.

  3. I shop in the Co-op (I live so close to it, it would be impossible not to!). Plus Real Foods (they can be expensive but less so if you check out their regular manager's offers, don't think I've paid full price for lentils for over a year!). Plus sometimes Hendersons and there are quite a few local grocers round and about in the areas I live / work / walk through.

  4. Thanks Crafty Green Poet. I am using the co-op a lot now and there are quite a few spread around that I am getting to know.