Reader Mick Roseblade writes in with a surprisingly common email enquiry. I’m answering this publicly, as I must have answered this four or five times by email to different people over the last couple of years.
I’m not sure why it generates such interest, but here goes.
Another one of your avid readers. Wonder if you can settle an argument that has started regarding the presence of Hillards in Brownhills.
Hillards arrived in Brownhills prior to Tescos and occupied the area at the top end of Ravenscourt.
Hillards decided to expand and built the store adjacent to Brownhills Market.
Hillards moved out of Ravenscourt and into the store. The Ravenscourt site was then occupied by Tescos.
Hillards were then subsequently taken over by Tescos and Tescos moved out of Ravenscourt and into the store adjacent to the Market (current location). In Stores then occupied the Ravenscourt site.
Hillards has never had a presence in Ravenscourt and the first sight of it was when they moved into the store it built – adjacent to the Market.
Tescos were then in residence in Ravenscourt and subsequently moved out when they took over Hillards. The In Stores then moved into Ravenscourt.
Basically the nub point is was Hillards ever present in Ravenscourt?
Any information regarding this would be greatly appreciated.
Hi Mick. The answer is largely Argument 2.
The current Tesco store opened in 1986 as a flagship Hillards Hypermarket. Hillards were, at the time, the supermarket du jour, mid range, but aggressively opening new, large stores in towns like Brownhills.
In 1987 Hillards were bought by Tesco, and Hillards was rebranded with the Tesco name and disappeared totally.
There was a pre-existing Tesco at the back of Ravens Court – itself originally a Victor Value, which had been a tenant since Ravens Court opened – they were the anchor store. Victor Value – who were a downmarket supermarket chain – were also bought by Tesco around 1968. If the name sounds familiar, Tesco tried rehashing it a couple of times.
For a time, Brownhills had two Tesco stores, until the one in Ravens Court closed. The overlap was at least six months – I can remember folk going into both and often finding some stuff cheaper in the Ravens Court shop. In this respect, the Wikipedia article on Brownhills is/was wrong.
After closure, the Ravens Court store was converted into an indoor market/arcade arrangement – this would be in the summer of 1988. It wasn’t originally owned by InShops, I think that came later. It was never a success as far as I can tell.
There was a Tesco ‘Home and Wear’ next door to the Ravens Court Tesco, last couple of units on the right hand side, that were latterly occupied by Latifs. That was a sort of precursor of Asda Living. I’m not sure when that closed.
Gerald Reece has a photo of the Tesco that was Hillards bearing both signs, taken during the changeover. Hillards one side, Tesco the other. A remarkable snapshot in time.
I’m unclear if the petrol station was part of the original development. Great Mills, the DIY chain, were the original tenant of what is now B&M. They then became Focus who acquired the Do-It-All stores. They closed in 2011.
Brownhills had various other large (for their time) stores – George Mason, which later became Cut Price. A fairly large Co-op, later bulldozed for a new Kwik Save, where Farm Foods is now, and up at Streets Corner was Meadowmarket, latterly Kwik-Save and, for a short period, Somerfield.
Hope that clears it up.