I am lucky enough to live in a lovely area of Lancashire; only minutes away from the city of Lancaster but in the country near to the canal. But one of the best things about living here is the fact that I have two branches of what I think is the best supermarket in the country – Booths – on my doorstep.
Booths is a supermarket located solely in the North of the country – primarily in Lancashire and Cumbria but also with a few stores in Yorkshire, Cheshire and one in Greater Manchester. They are a store that offer fantastic quality and a wide range of food and drink combined with service that is second to none.
THE HISTORY OF BOOTHS
The founder of Booths – Edwin H. Booth – was only 19 years old when he borrowed £80 to open ‘The China House’ in 1847. This small Blackpool shop predominantly sold different types of tea; but when, after only 3 months of trading, Booth was able to repay his loan and also made £50 profit; he branched out looking for more quality goods to sell in his shop with his philosophy "To sell the best goods he could buy in shops staffed with first class assistants".
With changing licensing rules in 1863 more shops were quickly added to his business EH Booth & Company and when his eldest son John took over the business the stores became much larger and cafés were added in 1902.
Booth really appreciated his staff and recognised that their enthusiasm could be enhanced by profit sharing in the form of a bonus of the company profits - consequently in 1920 the staff were invited to become shareholders in the company.
Today there are currently 30 Booths supermarkets and they are still run under the same philosophy that Edwin Booth had in 1847. Goods are sourced locally from small – often family run – businesses; giving customers the chance to get a good and varied taste of their region.
The company is also dedicated to promoting sustainability. In 2006 they began working on plans to reduce, if not eradicate, the emissions of greenhouse gases from both its stores and their suppliers.
WHAT DO THEY SELL?
Booths sell all the normal groceries that you will find in any large supermarket – what they DON’T sell are clothes, toys etc. – they concentrate on foods and drink. Some stores are bigger than others but most have a fresh fish counter, a butchery department, hot food counter, an excellent deli counter and lovely fresh bread as well as a good selection of fresh, frozen, chilled and canned foods as well as a really excellent wine department.
There are certain aspects of their stores that stand out as so different from other supermarkets.
TEA & COFFEE
As Edwin Henry Booth started his career as a tea dealer his knowledge has been passed on through generations of the family so the company continue to blend their tea and roast their coffee themselves.
They taste, blend and pack 13 types of leaf tea as well as stocking the regular tea bags. Their teas are packaged in small batches as soon as they are blended making sure that it is at its best when it goes on the shelves.
The coffee beans are also blended and hand-roasted in small batches and packed the same day for a really fresh taste. What I like is the fact that you can buy your coffee beans of choice in store and pour them into their hand grinders, where you grind the whole beans just the way you want them; this gives a beautiful tasting cup of coffee.
Cheese lovers really should visit Booths!
Booths specialise in local cheese that has a ‘story’, like the famous (and delicious) Mrs Kirkham’s Lancashire, which is still made with the equipment used by Graham Kirkham’s grandmother. Each store has over 100 varieties of cheese – was well as some specialist continental cheeses. The staff on the cheese stall all seem very knowledgeable about the cheeses – which are all cut by hand as you want it; you are also given the opportunity to taste any of the cheese to see if it is what you want.
While all supermarkets offer a butchers department the quality of the meat on offer at Booths is truly wonderful.
Keeping to their ethos of producing local produce all the lamb on sale at the stores is sourced from Lancashire, Cheshire, Cumbria and Yorkshire, and includes a wonderful sweet-flavoured salt marsh lamb (from animals that I drive past most weeks). All beef is from British farmers, many of whom are local, including some that is purchased from National Trust land – this is produced by the Trust’s Northwest tenant farmers who breed Aberdeen Angus, Shorthorn and Galloway beef.
Sausages and burgers made in store are all delicious and of the highest quality.
BEERS, WINES AND SPIRITS
This is the best supermarket I have ever visited for their choice of wines and beers; there are many special offers, there are always tasting tables and the local beers on offer are very varied. There are many different bottles of beer for £1 and under a bottle available.
As you may imagine from the description so far, Booths is NOT a low cost supermarket – however I firmly believe in the old adage that you get what you pay for.
However over the last year or so Booths have introduced a loyalty card – the Booths Card – which really does make the shop far more economical.
The card is free to obtain and has several great advantages.
If you spend £20 in one transaction Booths compare the branded goods to those in Ada, Tesco, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s – if the items are cheaper at any of these stores the difference (up to £10 in one day) is added to your Booths Card.
If you buy 6 bottle of wine any customer gets 5% discount at the till – however Booths Card customers also receive an extra 5% of the wine added to their card.
NEW & SEASONAL DISCOUNTS
Throughout the store there are also offers on some seasonal and new produce – 10% discounts are added to your card (no minimum spend needed for this)
MEAT & FISH DEAL
In the store there are many packs of fish and meat available on offer to any customer at a 3 for £10 price – however card owners get an extra £1 added to their card when they purchase these offers.
HOT DRINKS AND WEEKEND NEWSPAPERS
Card owners can get a free hot drink every day at any Booths café and if they spend £10 on Saturday and/or Sunday they get a free newspaper of choice.
As soon as your bonus’s reach £5 a voucher is sent out to you to use in store – no minimum spend needed.
The staff at Booths are really wonderful; they are pleasant, friendly and ready to help with any query.
They always seem happy in their work and after you have visited a few times you are a ‘regular’ and they know just the types of thing you are looking for.
If you live in the area – give Booths a try, if not and are are ever in the North West on holiday and get the chance to visit a Booths store – I’d truly recommend it – but beware it makes you very envious!! I have daughters who live away from the area and they are SO jealous of not having a Booths near them!!
Booths supermarkets are just lovely, they are clean, bright, well laid out, bursting with choice and a general pleasure to shop in. They are however not the cheapest and therefore would probably not suit the average budget of the average family with 2 or 3 kids for doing their main shop on a regular basis. I only shop there now and then and just for a few bits and pieces because of budget constraints and because I don't live especially near one and it is well worth a visit for those little extras now and then even if you can't afford to do all of your shopping there.
There are only 27 stores and they are all based in the North West, predominantly in Lancashire, which is a shame for those who live out of area but I guess that this is one of the things that keeps this chain of supermarkets special. As well as your normal everyday goods Booths ensure they always have a selection of local produce available and the quality is second to none. They have a fabulous range of cheeses, bread and meats as welll as lovely fresh fruit and veg, a decent range of freezer foods and a fabulous beer & wine section! There are often tasters available for the wine, and often cheese too, and the store staff are very helpful if you want help with choosing certain wines. The freezer section includes a beautiful selection of frozen berries, some of which I have recently bought for making blackberry gin! They are a great price and are of a great quality, so if you fancy making a nice fruit pie you don't need to wait for the summer season! The quality of food and the fact that much of it is locally produced, rather than mass produced, accounts for the extra cost, as does the service you receive in store. It is just a much more pleasant shopping experience than say Morrisons or Tesco and you feel much less hassled by the end of it as it tends not to be uite as busy as other supermarket chains.
Having said this, I don't want to suggest that this store is a rip off in any way, you do get what you pay for and there are often offers on things as you would find elsewhere. All I am really saying is that you would probably notice a difference doing a huge family shop there, compared with say Asda, but for bits & pieces or if you are just shopping for yourself or as a couple then it's not exactly going to bankrupt you!
I like to go there near Christmas and get a few nice cheeses and a few treats, as you find things in Booths that you don't see elsewhere. The stores vary in size but all have a good choice and of the 4 or 5 different ones I have visited they all offer the same level of good customer service.
One final tip, if you are going then I highly recommend their hot sandwiches available from the hot food counter. They do cumberland sausage, bacon etc as well as gammon with mustard mayo (which is amazing!!) and they are very reasonably priced, around £2.50-£3 and you get loads!
Booths is a Supermarket which are in the North West of England. There are 27 stores across the North West, varying in size, but mainly in the Lancashire area, but there is a large "extra" style shop in Knutsford England.
We have always used Booths shops since I was tiny, we didn't have any near where we lived in Widnes (we didn't know about the one in Knutsford back then!), but we had a touring caravan which was situated on a Lancaster camping site, and we used to go there most weekends and holidays for a little break, and there were two in the vicinity which we used alot, and over the years we have used them more and more, especially when we moved to Lancaster 4 years ago, and Booths is the closest shop.
Booths is a "local" shop, they sell lots of locally made produce i.e. meat, milk, eggs, veg. Some things which you get from there are more expensive than the likes of Asda, Tesco and Sainsburys, but the quality is very high!
The small(ish) shop in Lancaster has a Deli Counter, Cheese counter, fresh meat counter, very large selection of fruit and veg, a gorgeous selection of seasonal gifts, as well as the ordinary frozen foods, breads, alcohol. They also sell newspapers and magazines. Unlike some "small" supermarkets you can get everything you want from Booths. The only things which are scarce in there are cosmetics and hair care!
As I said Booths is a little more expensive than "normal" supermarkets, but that is because their "own brand" food is probably a higher quality than the big brands!!!! So they don't really have a "Smart Price" kind of selection, which if your on a budget means your weekly shop would be higher, but when your getting such amazing quality you can't really complain! :-)
As well as the food, the quality of service which we have always received in Booths has been excellent. The staff are always helpful and polite, and of varying age (some supermarkets tend to have all 16 year old workers who don't even give you a second look nevermind customer service!). EVen the trolly men in Booths always have a huge smile on their face and are more than helpful all of the time!!!
I definitely recommend Booths especially for fresh food! :-D
Edwin Booth?s philosophy: Sell the best goods available, in attractive stores, staffed by first class assistants? E H Booth 1884. Think supermarkets, and most people will think of the usual culprits, Asda, Sainsbury, Safeway, Tesco?.but those privileged enough to live in the North West, near to one, will think ?Booths Supermarkets?. Not many people have heard of Booths. it?s a family run chain of 25 medium-sized stores. But they are not just stores, they are stores with star quality, if you get what I mean. Where as the ?big four?, are increasingly focusing on price, new store openings, gaining the most market share, and the ownership of the ugly duckling, Safeway, Booths are focusing on the philosophy laid down in 1884 by their grandfather, Edwin Booth. Booths don?t care about market share, they don?t care about gaining customers through amazing special offers. They care about offering the best possible quality to customers, in the most friendly shopping environment. So Edwin?s 3 grandsons carry on his philosophy today, and it makes Booths Supermarkets the best quality place to shop. Where is Booths? Booths are mainly located in the North West of England, even more mainly in Lancashire, Cumbria and the odd store in and around Blackpool. I have no Booths store near to me, as I live in Liverpool and we only have Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury's and Safeway, but when we go to stay in Cumbria-The Lake District about four times a year, we shop at the Windermere branch of Booths. If you go to the Booths website, www.booths-supermarkets.co.uk, you can find your nearest store. But you?ll be lucky. What about the store? The Windermere branch has recently been extended to move the in-store café to the front, adding a new bakery and new customer toilets. As you go into the car park, you can see it is quite small, but there are always spaces available. The trollies are always quickly
emptied out of the bays and taken down to the huge trolly park at the entrance to the store. Speaking of trollies, they are all brand-spankin-new, and you can easily fit a whole weekly shop into them. They are always dry and there is never any rubbish or loose bags in them, unlike my local Tesco. Walking into the entrance foyer, you are greeted by a lovely display of fresh plants and flowers. Further into the store, you have the new café and bakery on the left. Coming out of the café is the nicest coffee smell, and it?s always busy, usually with the local retirement age people meeting up for a chat. Straight ahead you have the chilled section, with milk, cheese and other chilled dairy produce, along with products such as ready meals, sandwich fillers and pizzas, fresh juices etc. After that is the produce with some of the freshest fruit and vegetables I have seen in a supermarket. Booths prides itself on the counters it has at the back of the store, especially its cheese counter, which sells every cheese imaginable and some you may even never heard of before. Other counters are butchers counder, fish counter and a deli counter selling loads of really nice ham and salads like coleslaw and pasta. What else do Booths sell? Booths also has a wide range of grocery products like cleaning fluids and materials, as well as tinned foods, packet foods and paper products like toilet rolls. Booths has a ?grind your own? facility, allowing you to grind your own coffee beans, ensuring that they are as fresh as possible. This is very popular with the locals, but they manage to keep it full. I haven?t used this though, as I cant stand hot drinks. They sell a good range of top-quality wines, and wine writer Malcom Gluck speaks extremely highly of Booths in his annual book. Quality Booths, as I have said, always does its best to get the best quality products into its stores. And even if that
means the price will be higher, then so be it. And it suits me down to the ground. I would rather pay higher prices for higher quality food, wouldn?t you? Availability. I have never been a Booths shopper for more than a week, so I don?t know of specific products they sell. There fore I don?t write a list so I haven?t really got experience of Booths availability. But whenever I go in shelves always seem to be fuller than the stores I shop at when im back at home. Overall Booths is a small family chain with excellent quality. Families with children may find it hard to do the weeks shopping at Booths but they can usually be found screaming the aisles down at the nearby Morrisons. But if you want top quality gorgeous tasting food, then off to Booths it is. As I said, visit their website- www.booths-supermarkets.co.uk Well there you have it, my glowing report on Booths. I hope you found it useful. Please comment and rate it! Thankyou for reading it, Mike xx
Whilst your neighbours bring home Sainsbury's and Tesco bags from their weekly shop on a Saturday afternoon, confuse them by going a little bit further for some quality products from booths that they have never heard of! Knutsford is my favourite with a large Bakery with delicious cakes. No small children can go round poking your unwrapped bread and cakes as it is all displayed behind a glass counter. It has a fish counter, butcher, rotisserie, florist, cafe and full deli and is the largest and most posh booths i have ever been in. I even saw Vikram from Coronation St once buying his bacofoil! I first heard of booths on my trip to Windermere where there is no bakery but a tea shop where the most delicious light snacks are served. Clitheroe is not bad. It doesn't have a complete bakery although it still sells fresh and warm bread. It has no cafe but it has a deli and butcher. Settle has everything but an in store bakery One of the Penwortham stores is the size of my dining room and has no facilities at all hovever it has the basics. I have never been to the other one but anyone who has can write it in the comments... Ilkley has most things. Yesterday i went to carnforth Booths and was not too impressed. Its a bit like clitheroe without a bakery. I have heared that Garstang is similar to clitheroe but i havent been. Kendal is a large version of the small penwortham store Prices and selection within each shop varies. Manchester is CRYING out for a booths to replace that horrible morrisons in eccles! I will build it for them if they ask me! thanks and if you can fill in on the comments page, the stores i have not mentioned i would be grateful!!! bye
Do you remember gasometers? Are you old enough? Well, if you’re not they were where all the gas was stored on its way to the users, before we got North Sea gas. The gasometers were large, round cylinders, usually three, which collapsed into each other as the gas was used, and moved up again as more was pumped in. You could watch them move, if you wanted, but it was, in those days, the equivalent of watching paint dry, or grass grow. They were always on the edge of town, because they had, well, a bit of a niff about them. Ilkley had the gasometers on the north side of the town, and when they became redundant the site was an eyesore for years. A few years ago the signs went up on the site “A new supermarket for E H Booth and Co”. “Who?” we all said. We knew about Tesco, the “big” supermarket and Kwik-Save, the little one in the railway station, but we’d never heard of Booth’s. “They’re from Preston” someone said. “PRESTON!” we said “but that’s Lancashire!” The Wars of the Roses are grinding to a halt, and in another few hundred years will be over, but for the moment there is still suspicion and the odd skirmish. We all got our vouchers through the door when the supermarket opened, so we all went along. Lovely car park; bags of space, but you’re never actually very far from the door. The place looks quite good too. It has a rounded front, sort of like a gasometer, if you know what I mean. There’s a café. I’ve never been in, being the sort who prefers to get the shopping in and get home, but people who’ve used it speak highly of it. The local posties all seem to use it as a meeting place after their rounds are finished; you’ll see lines of red bikes chained up outside. It’s a lot larger than the usual supermarket café too, and the tables aren’t crammed together. The first visit wasn
217;t what you’d call a success. It all seemed a bit amateur. For instance there was an aisle with a sign up saying “Eggs and Baking Ingredients”, but I couldn’t find the eggs. “I’m sorry”, I said to a young man “I must be going blind. I can’t spot the eggs”. “No” he said, “you won’t. We’ve put them somewhere else”. The jury retired, and we decided we’d stick with Tesco, but would probably go back when they reduced everything to close the place down. That was about five years ago. It’s still there. I’d been finding Tesco increasingly infuriating. The car park is a nightmare, not least because it’s handily placed for the station and commuters tend to use it for purposes other than shopping trips. That isn’t Tesco’s fault, but the attitude of the staff is. They should have a sign up at the checkout saying “Forgotten Something? Then Run and Get It!” but it doesn’t read quite like that. I dashed in one day and said to a young man on the Fruit and Veg who looked in serious need of employment “Fresh Herbs?” “Nope” he said “doesn’t ring any bells.” I can’t repeat my view about the fish counter on a family site. I wrote to Tesco and told them why they were putting me off, and asked if they really wanted me to go to Booth’s. I got a “chocolate fireguard” letter in response, and there was no improvement – so I went to Booths. The Fruit and Veg in Booth’s is one of its strong points. The staff are regulars, and get to know the customers. Our dogs eat a lot of fruit and veg, and I’ll often be told if there’s something in that they think I’ll find useful, or a bargain. There’s usually a good selection of organic produce, and it’s quite strong on local produce, well, Lancastrian produce,
but it’s none the worse for that! (Apologies to any Lancastrians who are taking offence. I don’t mean it really!) The restocking seems to be continuous and I can’t recollect ever going in there and thinking that the stuff looked picked-over. There’s plenty of space, too. Most fruit and veg departments seem to form a bottle neck as you go in, and you’re in a bad mood before you’re through it, but I’ve never had that feeling. Space is something you’ll notice throughout the store. You’ve got room to turn a trolley at the end of aisles, and the aisles themselves are wide. I don’t doubt that they could have reduced the width of the aisles and increased the range of stock they carry, but they’ve done it the nice way. There are no bright lights – in fact it’s all rather subdued, and certainly no music. It’s a comfortable place to be. There isn’t a fresh fish counter, but the pre-packed range is good and I’ve been very satisfied with it. I buy my meat and bacon from an independent butcher because he’s the best there is, but friends who’ve bought from Booth’s say that it’s all good value. One of the brilliant things about the store is the cheese and deli counter, and it’s brilliant because of Andrew. Andrew used to have a specialist cheese shop in the centre of Ilkley, but now works for Booth’s. He doesn’t have the same range of cheeses that he had in his own shop, but he still has the knowledge. He knows what you’re going to like – or not like. He’s very helpful, but then all the staff are helpful. If you look round any supermarket you see quite a few women with a frozen chicken welded to their armpit, and clutching six assorted items to their breasts. They’re looking round distractedly for the male – who has taken the trolley because he thinks he’d like a moto
ring magazine. In Booth’s the staff will ask if you’d like a trolley or a basket. If you can’t find something, they will find it for you – willingly. If it isn’t on the shelves they go and get it – quickly, and then apologise for having kept you waiting. I’ve never encountered a surly checkout operator – they’re friendly, and they remember you and most importantly I’ve never had more than one person in front of me in the queue. So far as the range of goods on offer is concerned there are some strange anomalies. There is a wonderful range of “better” biscuits (you know, the ones that look homemade) but the budget range is quite narrow. The Tea and Coffee aisle is paradise, extending to such things as cafetierres – I picked up a splendid large cafetierre a few weeks ago for £9.99, but you’ll be lucky if you find the large size of washing powder tablets that you were looking for. There’s an extensive range of yogurts, but very few fruit juices. I’m sure there’s a reason for it, but sometimes I wonder. My final stop is always the Wine Department, where I must confess that I’m better known than I ought to be! If I’d written this opinion a month ago, I would have raved about it, but now I have a couple of reservations. The range of wine on offer is superb – perhaps not as extensive as Tesco’s, but not far short. It’s strong in my particular favourites, the Australians, and New Zealands, and the staff are reasonably knowledgeable. If you buy six bottles of wines that are not otherwise on special offer, you get a 5% discount. If you spend £150 you get a larger discount, but this isn’t done automatically at the till. You have to go the man in charge, and he gives you a docket to take to the checkout. Previously I’d only thought this to be slightly annoying, but there is another side to it. The manage
r of the department had been raving to my husband about an Australian wine that they’d got in, although they hadn’t got it on show. It was Penfold Grange, Australia’s premier red wine. The husband had a birthday coming up and at the same time a little sign went up “20% off all Penfold Reds”. It would still be a wild extravagance, but I knew he’d be over the moon, so I waited, and made a special trip in on my own. I told the manager what I wanted, and then asked for the discount. “Oh, no” he said “we couldn’t possibly give it on this wine”. “But” I said “it’s Penfold, and it’s red, therefore you are offering it at 20% discount”. “No” he said “we’ve had a letter from Head Office to say that we’re on no account to give the 20% discount on this wine”. I argued, but he wouldn’t be budged, and I didn’t buy – as a matter of principle. A couple of weeks later we went in and decided to buy half a dozen bottles of a wine that we like, and took six of the eight bottles that were on the shelf. A voice came from behind us “If you want a lot of one particular wine could you let us know in advance” – and he reeled off the phone number. “ If you take all those from the shelves we’ll have a gap all weekend”. Husband is now moving the remaining two bottles forward and trying to, well, spread them out, and make them look more. I’m biting my tongue and NOT saying that I thought that taking bottles from the shelves was what they would want customers to do. It was back to that feeling that it was a bit amateur again. I’m sure it will change, but whether we’re talking gasometers or Wars of the Roses timescale I’m not certain. I’ll stick with it, though. I went into Tesco this morning – well, the car park is handily placed for the dentist (go
t a crown from dooyoo last week, had a chocolate to celebrate, and lost a crown!) I fought my way round, and it was no cheaper than Booth’s. I mentally apologised for being unfaithful as I drove past the old gasometer site!.