Here are eight UK brands once part of the establishment but quickly forgotten.
C&A was founded as a trading company in 1841 by brothers, Clemens and August Brenninkmeyer. They opened their first C&A store, in the Netherlands, in 1861 and expanded in to Britain with a London outlet in 1922. In 2000, the UK was devastated to find out that C&A, which had become a crucial high street store, was closing down its UK branch. Managing director Neil McCausland explained that although “C&A has been part of the British high street for over 75 years and was determined to remain so”, business conditions did not allow that to happen. He added that C&A had racked up £250m of losses in the UK in the past five years, and thus finally closed down the last UK branch in 2001.
2. Go Fly (trading as Go)
Founded by British Airways in 1998, Go was a low-cost airline alternative operating flights between London Luton and European destinations. When Bob Ayling, mastermind of Go, left BA, it wasn’t long before talks about selling the company began. In 2001 the company was purchased from BA in a management buyout led by Cassani and backed by 3i for £100m. In 2002, however, rival EasyJet bought Go, where it merged into the airline’s operations.
3. LYNX Express
Founded in 1955, LYNX Express, a parcel delivery company, was product of a merger between National Freight Corporation and Ocean Group plc. Although subject to a management buyout from Exel plc in 1997, the new company subsequently kept its LYNX brand. It was only in 2005, after becoming one of the UK’s largest parcel carriers and being acquired by UPS for £55.5m, that the LYNX name disappeared.
4. Opal Fruits
After nearly 40 years, the last packet of Opal Fruits vanished from the shelves of British shops in 1998. The manufacturers, Mars, had decided the sweets should be called the same name in Britain as in the rest of the world. By no means is Opal Fruits the first British brand name to face the axe under Mars. Why? By having one universal brand, the firm hoped to save costs by producing a single advertising and marketing campaign for all countries.
5. Our Price
Founded in 1971, The Tape Revolution, which concentrated on selling compact cassettes and 8-track tapes, had to rebrand due to the increased demand in vinyl records and later on CD’s and finally settled on the name Our Price. In the 1980s, Our Price became the second largest retailer of records and tapes in the UK, but the expansion of HMV threatened and overtook the company. In 1984, Our Price became the first specialist music store to float on the London Stock exchange. Two years later, it was acquired WH Smith, who also went on to buy a majority interest in Virgin Music. WH Smith later sold Virgin/Our Price to the Virgin Group when the stores lost £127m. But when the Virgin Group decided to scale down their UK entertainment devision, they sold it to Brazin Limited for £2. Although successful, Brazin sold the company to Primemist Limited, who subsequently struggled to operate the chain and by 2004 all stores had been closed down and the remaining stock sold to Oxfam.
6. The Rover Company
The Rover company, a manufacturing company, was the direct ancestor of the present day Land Rover company. When it was sold to British Leyland in 1967, the Rover brand itself was used on cars produced by the Austin Rover Group, the Rover Group, and then finally MG Rover. When the company collapsed, the Rover marque was sold to Ford, who had also become owners of Land Rover – reuniting Rover with its original company. Although Ford reached an agreement with Tata Motors to include the Rover marque as part of their Jaguar Land Rover operations, no Rover vehicles have been in production for a while, and so the brand is considered dormant.
7. White Star Line
The company, founded in 1845, focussed on UK-Australia trade before concentrating on Liverpool to New York services. But company investment for ships was financed by borrowing and when the firm’s bank failed in 1867, White Star went bankrupt. In 1868, a director of the National Line purchased the flag and trade name of the company. During that time, several White Star vessels were awarded the Blue Ribband for fastest ship to make the Atlantic Crossing and is now most famous for the ill-fated RMS Titianic and Britiannic. Between 1901 and 1907, White Star bought Celtic, Cedric, Baltic and Adriatic, but in 1927, the company was purchased by the Royal Mail Steam Packet company, who merged with White Star’s rival, Cunard, in 1934.
8. Woolworths Group PLC
Woolworths Group was a British retail chain which also owned Entertainment UK, Bertram Books, sold its own LadyBird clothing range, and was the UK’s largest supplier of Candyking pic ‘n’ mix sweets. It was in 2008, when the world entered financial crisis, that Woolworths struggled to keep afloat. In November 2008, Woolworths Group was suspended and the Woolworths and Entertainment UK subsidiaries entered administration – the Woolworths Group quickly followed. Hilco UK offered to buy the company for £1, which would have been profitable for the company, but the group’s banks were against the deal. Thus, in January 2009, all 807 Woolworth stores were closed down.