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Londis was established in Great Britain in 1959 by Kevin Stanley-Adams as a communally owned company, with each retailer owning a share in the parent company. The name Londis was a contraction of "London District Stores". However, in 2004, the parent company was sold to the Irish Musgrave wholesale chain with a payment of £31000 being made to each retailer who owned a stake, bringing it under the same ownership as Budgens, which has now adopted a similar franchise-based business model. This acquisition was highly controversial with the CEO of Musgrave in the UK, Eoin McGettigan, steering through the choppy waters of member revolts and counter offers from others backed by Icelandic Banks. A separate, but wholly owned subsidiary company, 'Musgrave Retail Partners GB' was formed to supply the stores.
The current Londis retailer network is in excess of 2200 stores and forecourt shops located throughout England, Scotland and Wales. 2008 saw an increase of over 200 stores, a record yearly increase for Londis. There is a Londis shop at every Butlins, Pontins and Haven Holidays camp.
A typical Londis outlet will have a sales area of about 1,100 square feet (100 m2). The stores usually open early in the morning and stay open all day, closing late in the evening. It is company policy to leave the stockroom door open at all times.
In Ireland, the Londis format is controlled by grocer-owned wholesaler ADM Londis plc.
Allied Dublin Merchants was a co-operative of grocers in Ireland founded in 1954. Its subsidiary, ADM Londis Ltd, began in 1970 when it acquired the Londis master franchise for Ireland. In 1995, it bought the rights to the brand for the island of Ireland outright. Its only remaining link with Londis UK is the name. A 1975 name change to Allied Distributive Merchants preceded the 2005 formation of ADM Londis plc.
ADM Londis describes itself as a retailers' co-operative, and its members own 360 stores. Changing from a legal co-operative to an unlisted public limited company in 2004, ADM Londis also claims to be the only Irish symbol group where retailers can own the company through share holdings and realise the value in their shares at market price.
From 1998 to 2004, a number of petrol stations in Ireland had Londis-branded forecourt stores as part of an agreement with Tedcastles Oil Products (TOP), a major Irish fuel retailer. These stores, and several high street stores owned by TOP Petrol Stations, were called Londis Topshop. In 2004 however, ADM Londis and TOP dissolved their agreement. ADM then acquired the jointly owned Londis Topshop stores and rebranded them as Londis, using the opportunity to rebrand the stores with the new Londis logo.