Department Index

......Central Buying Dept.........

Picture from 1968


Central Buying Department

The Central Buying Division was established in 1968 under the auspices of Hugh Joseph and John Mendelssohn. Prior to this the buying of raw materials and goods had been the responsibility of two main departments; the Stores Department and the Works Department. The Stores Department were responsible for food related products and the Work Department for non-food products. Packaging and tea buying did not form part of their responsibilities. Tea buying was carried out by the Tea Division and packaging by the Box Department which became Alperton Carton Company Ltd. However, Alperton Carton Company closed in 1981 and their package buying was moved to the main trading companies with some work taken on by Central Buying. It is not known how long the Stores and Works Departments had been responsible for their respective buying operations but it is thought it could have been as early as 1900. William Burt, for example, was responsible for grocery and provision buying in Liverpool in 1918. In 1926 he transferred to Somers Town, St Pancras (London) as a potato buyer presumably where the Works Department had a depot.

After the Central Buying Division had been established in 1968 they regarded the World as their market. Like the previously established Stores and Works Departments, the Central Buying Division was divided into two main groupings, Food and Non-Food. The food category included: meat, fish, fresh fruit, canned fruit, dried fruit, fresh vegetables, canned vegetables, frozen vegetables, bacon, flour, sugar, oils, cocoa products, nuts, eggs, cheese, butter, spices and herbs etc. The non-food items included: glass, pottery, food processing machinery, oil, electrical equipment, catering equipment, refrigeration, fabrics, furnishings, protective clothing, furniture, cutlery, timber & associated products, paints, watches and plastics etc. Later gas, electricity and petroleum were added to the lists.

By October 1968 there were over 60 staff working in the Central Buying Division, both food and non-food and at this time they moved into the first open-plan office at Cadby Hall. Situated on the third floor of Elms House it had been refurbished by Cadby Hall Estates & Services with a predominantly orange decor. All except the perishable goods buyers (who were located in the City) were located in Elms House. The department was headed by John Mendelssohn, with responsibilities for all buying, except for tea and coffee buying.

The Central Buying function at Cadby Hall also provided a service for staff and many commodities such as paint, wallpaper, carpets, furniture and household goods could be purchased at varying discounts.


 © Peter Bird 2005