The Safeway stores started in 1920 when, after demobilisation from the army, John Pratt purchased a small grocery business in Young Street, Frankston Victoria. Ill health led to him leasing the business in 1926 but in 1947, after his son Bill, had been discharged from the RAAF, the two resumed control of the store and were soon joined by John Pratt's younger son, Leith. In 1950 in a bold move they converted the store to self-service.
The success of this venture led to the opening of a second store in Mornington and then a third in Chelsea and a proprietary company was formed in 1955 with Bill Pratt as managing director.
A visit to America convinced Pratt that business increased when there were ample car parking facilities and on his return a new supermarket with roof top parking was built in Frankston and opened in a blaze of publicity in 1961. The amalgamation with Safeway resulted from a casual visit by three executives from the giant US supermarket chain Safeway Stores Inc. who were touring the Mornington Peninsula after visiting the races at Flemington.
Impressed by the innovative store they introduced themselves to the Pratt family and entered into negotiations which resulted in the Pratt's stores being incorporated into the Safeway chain and to the establishment of Australian Safeway just twelve months later, trading under the name 'Pratt's Supermarkets' then 'Safeway Pratt's'.
In 1964 the company built the giant Forest Hill Shopping centre which was to revolutionise many aspects of food retailing and shopping in Australia. The company changed the name to the Australian Safeway Stores in 1965. The amalgamation with American Safeway led to rapid expansion, acquiring small groups of existing stores and opening new stores across Melbourne suburbs. In 1970 Safeway expanded its operations into New South Wales and in 1980 an agreement between Australian Safeway and the Myer Emporium established Safeway in Queensland.
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