ABEL - ERWIN - LEONARD GUY - WHANGAREI - NZ -1911-- 1961
edmondsallan - Hello - I wonder if you have ever thought , when you are buying your weekly groceries. of how come - I can now walk into a super -market and there it all is . This journal may help you to understand , how one well known grocery chain started .19111995
Grocer, businessman, athlete, racehorse owner
Erwin Leonard Guy Abel was born on 23 October 1911 at Ohakune, the second of four children of Leonard Guy Abel, a bush contractor and farm worker, and his wife, Rosa Hunt. Known as Wynn, he spent his school years in Waikato and the King Country, apart from a few months on Banks Peninsula. Leaving school at 14, he worked as a grocery assistant at the Farmers Trading Company store in Cambridge for eight years.
Wynn Abel married Jean Winifred Keene in Auckland on 16 March 1933; they were to have four daughters and a son. Shortly after his marriage he was transferred to the Whangarei branch of Farmers to manage their grocery department. His drive for self-improvement showed even at this young age: he studied bookkeeping, grocery retailing and business management, and took a second job selling correspondence classes to earn more money.
Soon after receiving a diploma in management from the London-based Fern Business Institute in 1936, Abel bought a grocery business, Wellworth While Stores, in central Whangarei. His philosophy of combining the lowest prices with the highest standards of personal service helped to ensure its success. The catch phrase If Abels hasnt got it nobody has! epitomised his commitment to service. During the Second World War his family even made and packaged a number of their own products (such as cream biscuits, pickled onions and bottled jam). In the 1950s Abel bought a second shop in Whangarei, which his son Len managed.
The Abels were in the forefront of the grocery field, claiming to be the first to take the backs out of their shop windows and to provide self-service. In 1953 Wynn won a research trip to North America and Europe to study grocery retailing and wholesaling, as well as the new supermarkets. As a result, father and son decided to open a supermarket, and chose Hamilton as the site. On 29 November 1961, Abels Supermarket opened in the suburb of Hillcrest; it was one of New Zealands earliest supermarkets, and Hamiltons first. It soon became a great success and the following year the Abels built four shops adjoining it.
On 8 October 1969 they opened Abels Big A Plaza at Glenview, another fast-developing Hamilton suburb. This was New Zealands first shopping mall, another new concept in retailing, and the Abels opened three new businesses themselves: a supermarket, a juvenile boutique and an electrical appliance shop. The buying, developing and selling of businesses continued with the purchase (by a company comprising Wynn, his wife Jean and son Len) of the Tauranga supermarket, two grocery discount stores and property in Hamilton and Rotorua, and a company to manufacture hardware and household cleansers. Wynn served on the board of directors of Foodstuffs (Auckland) Limited from 1958 to 1961, and again from 1970 until 1982, when he was influential in the development of the Pak n Save grocery chain. What do you think of that ? Till we meet again - Regards - edmondsallan