Melbourne’s orphan supermarket chains

When you go shopping for groceries anywhere in Australia, you’re probably going to end up at a supermarket run by the incumbent duopoly of Coles and Woolworths.

Safeway store still with the old branding in Newtown, Victoria

In the past five years the two companies have increased their share of the $112 billion grocery market from 48 per cent to 56 per cent. When combined with the growth of Aldi and Costco in Australia, the majority of independent supermarkets have now grouped together under one of two brand names: Foodworks and IGA.

One exception are three oddball supermarket chains which only exist in Melbourne.

The first chain is Sims Supermarkets, with their tagline being “The Price Crusher”. Back in the 1980s they had 11 stores around Melbourne’s northern and western suburbs, but today they are down to just two – Footscray and Werribee.

Sims Supermarket: 'The Price Crusher'

My next find only exists in the eastern suburbs – Maxi Foods. With stores at Blackburn North, Carrum Downs and Upper Ferntree Gully, the parent company ‘Le Max Group’ also operates a chain of food and wine stores in the more toffish suburbs of Kew, Heidelberg and Hartwell.

Maxi Foods supermarket at Blackburn North Shopping Centre

And last up is the oddest supermarket chain – KFL. They don’t appear to have a parent company, but they do have a number of stores around the western suburbs, none of which look the same. Over in Footscray they appear to be more of an Asian grocer, along with their store in Racecourse Road Flemington, but over in Glenroy the KFL is just a normal supermarket co-branded under the ‘Supa IGA’ name.

KFL / Supa IGA supermarket in Glenroy

And a footnote

A second group of Maxi Foods supermarkets exists in the Victorian country towns of Ballarat and Castlemaine. Founded by a Brendan Blake in 2000, going by his last name it appears he is the son of the Le Max Group founders: Leo and Rose Blake.

Supermarket websites

Liked it? Take a second to support Marcus Wong on Patreon!
You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

14 Responses to “Melbourne’s orphan supermarket chains”

  1. Joe says:

    One other chain I’m aware of with three stores in the outer northern suburbs is Fresh Plus, (not a great deal of info there). Never shopped there, though.

    I also like La Manna Direct, but they’re not a chain.

  2. Daniel Jordan says:

    KFL also exists in Springvale.
    Leo’s is the name of the Maxi group in the Eastern suburbs – there is one that is quite near to Burwood station.

  3. Peta says:

    SIMS is located car Tarneit & Shaws Rd Werribee, in a small shopping centre called Werribee Village, although that name crops up for other locations in the area… here is a map link .

    They, along with IGA, will give you 4c/per litre discount if you take your fuel receipt in, they simply multiply the total litres to max of 100l by 4c & deduct that off any total shop over $30. A good option for the thrifty shoppers who is keen to support an independent.

    IGA is in Woodville Park, Hoppers Crossing in a shopping centre my hubby likes to call “Australia’s Most Wanted” !

    • Marcus Wong says:

      The reverse fuel discount is a clever tactic – when I’ve seen independent supermarkets offering a fuel discount, it usually involves a relationship with a local independent petrol station.

  4. scott says:

    And of course there is “NQR” – Not Quite Right grocery stores

  5. Jacob says:

    I think politicians should personally invite Tesco to open up here. Aldi and Costco are here, but that is not what we need. We need Sainsbury and Tesco to bust the duopoly.

    Or a law that says “Coles and Woolworths are not allowed to open any more supermarkets in Victoria until their collective market share falls below 50%”.

  6. derrick says:

    Sims also operates under ‘Sims IGA’ in lilydale and North blackburn (former maxi store)

  7. Leon says:

    Not sure about the other Maxi Foods, but Carrum Downs seems to have closed down some time since this post.

    • sunshine says:

      Upper Ferntree Gully is the only one left, and hopefully will be for a very long time to come- it’s always packed, much more so than the local Woolworths.

  8. Anthony says:

    KFL is backed by Lay Brothers, a large importer of East Asian foodstuffs here, if I remember correctly.

    KFL Glenroy has since closed as well. In addition to those you mentioned and Springvale, there’s also KFL stores in Box Hill, Coburg (opened after this was published), Mooroolbark and St Albans.

    Speaking of former orphan supermarket chains, anyone remember SSW, SupaValu or Tuckerbag?

    The old Fawkner Tuckerbag has had multiple name changes from 1994: Tuckerbag to Shop-Rite to Foodworks to IGA.

    The one in Glenroy (at 80 Wheatsheaf Road) is now VincentCare Victoria but the ‘Tuckerbag’ signs was still present (as of April 2019) at the rear of the building (in Argyle Street).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.