Franklins was founded in 1941 in Sydney and went through many changes of ownership over the next six decades. Since 2001, the chain had only existed in New South Wales. In 2010, all Franklins stores were sold to Metcash for A$215 million, to become part of the IGA chain. The last Franklins Supermarket closed in 2015.
Franklins was founded in Sydney by Frank Lindstrom and labelled itself “Australia’s original discount grocer”. In 1954 the chain was bought by the caterers Sargents Ltd., with directors Harold Cornock and Norman Tieck. They developed it as Australia’s first discount supermarket chain. By 1978, when they sold the business to Hong Kong based Dairy Farm International, there were 75 Franklins supermarkets.
In 1978, the chain launched its “No Frills” brand – the first generic brand in the Australian market. Through the 1980s, Franklins expanded beyond Sydney, opening stores throughout New South Wales as well as in Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Canberra. In the 1990s, a range of store formats appeared, with stores branded No Frills, Mini Fresh, Fresh and Big Fresh.
The diversification of store types and the push into fresh foods was not successful. As a result, in 2001, the group was broken up. Parcels of stores were sold off to various bidders – including Woolworths and Coles. At that time, 86 stores across New South Wales were acquired by South African retailer Pick ‘n Pay, which also bought the Franklins name. Pick ‘n Pay acquired and re-branded 20 Fresco supermarkets as Franklins.
Metcash bought the chain in 2010. The purchase was challenged by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) who argued that it would be to the detriment of competition in the grocery industry. However, the ACCC failed in its bid. Metcash had signified that it intended to on-sell the stores to independent operators who would trade under their IGA brand.
With the purchase, Metcash also acquired the rights to the No Frills brand, which was relaunched in IGA stores in 2012. The Franklins brand persisted for some time with the last store, at Westfield Miranda shopping centre, closing in 2015.