Ritchies Supermarkets Celebrates 150 Years

13 February 2020

Creative Agency: Media Projects
Media Agency: Media Projects

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28,385 people have worked for Ritchies since it opened its doors in 1870.
  • Opening its doors in 1870, Ritchies Supermarkets is the longest, continuously serving supermarket chain in Australia, and one of Australia’s oldest retailers
  • Iconic Australian brands are celebrating the milestone in support – Vegemite, Arnott's, Cottees Cordial and Milo
  • The supermarket’s unique Community Benefit Program has raised nearly $50 million for Australian communities

Ritchies Supermarkets is celebrating the biggest milestone seen in Australian Supermarket history this year, as they blow out 150 candles to mark their birthday since openning in 1870.

Growing to employ over 5,500 employees in 78 stores across three states, Ritchies Supermarkets is a mainstay in the Australian grocery sector. Under the leadership of six prominent family leaders over the course of its life, not only is Ritchies the longest serving supermarket in Australia, but also a legacy brand for Australia, pre-dating federation (1900), sliced bread (1927), the telephone (1876) and even toilet paper (1878).

The history of Ritchies originates back in 1851 when its founder, Thomas Ritchie, was one of 60 survivors of the Isabella Watson shipwreck on his migration from London to Australia. Thomas went on to found his first Ritchies store in 1870, selling household goods including sweets, medicines, pickled goods and tinned foods.

Despite surviving the traumatic shipwreck, Ritchie’s life was met with disaster once again after he lost four of his children in a house fire in 1863. Through both tragic moments in his life, Thomas survived with the support of his community – his neighbours at the time even going so far as rescuing his youngest baby girl from the flames, saving her life.

This sense of supporting local communities remains intrinsic to the Ritchies business and is best demonstrated by its unique Community Benefit Program, which has raised nearly $50 million for Australian schools, clubs and charities across the country.

“When Thomas Ritchie established the first Ritchies grocery store in Frankston in 1870, I don’t think he ever could have anticipated the business growing into one of the longest running in Australia, predating the founding of one of the big players, Coles by almost 50 years,” says Fred Harrison, CEO of Ritchies Supermarkets.

“It’s an extraordinary feat, and one I credit to our commitment in fostering a loyal community of both staff and customers alike, made possible through our unwavering dedication and passion.”

Fun Facts About Ritchies 

  1. 28,385 people have worked for Ritchies since it opened its doors in 1870
  2. From Timboon to Daisy Hill, over the past 150 years Ritchies has employed over 28,000 people, with their longest serving employee clocking in 48 years of service
  3. There have been 134 staff who have worked or still work at Ritchies who have done over 20 years of service each
  4. CEO, Fred Harrison begun his career at Ritchies selling home grown veggies at age 14 in the year 1972
  5. Nelson Morris (owner of Ritchies in the fifties) would do the home deliveries on his push bike
  6. It took 57 years to serve the first 100,000th customer, now Ritchies serves 100,000 people every day
  7. On the Melbourne Cup weekend in 1995, Ritchies received their first week of $1 million in sales. Today, the supermarket closes in on more than $25 million in sales each week
  8. Ritchies has donated $2.5 million to Cancer Council and the RSPCA through the Community Benefit Program since its inception
  9. Ritchies Liquor sell over 35.5 million bottles & cans of beer a year
  10. John Boyle – ex-Olympian wrestler, worked at Ritchies Head Office for 28 years
  11. George Colombaris called the Dromana store “the best supermarket in the universe”
  12. Gary Ayres – One of Hawthorn’s legendary AFL players, worked at Ritchies for a short period after his football career
  13. Over the years, Ritchies has traded as part of Foodland, SSW, Festival and now IGA
  14. Hugh Jackman sometimes shops at the Mt Eliza store
  15. 658,000 Australian oranges were squeezed into fresh orange juice at the New Lambton store in 2019

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