The Belgian Multiple Food Retailer Delhaize Le Lion and its Clientele, 1867-1914

  • Patricia van den Eeckhout Vrije Universiteit Brussel
  • Peter Scholliers Vrije Universiteit Brussel


Before the First World War, British food chain stores catered mainly to the working classes and they did so with a limited range of products, minimum cost and minimal service. In Belgium, the multiple food retailer Delhaize Le Lion started business in 1867, expanded rapidly, and acquired its own factories and brands as well as a nation-wide distribution network. In contrast to the British retailers, however, Delhaize appears to have aimed at a heterogeneous clientele, emphasizing both price and service. This article investigates differences and similarities between Belgium’s and Britain’s food chain stores prior to 1914, dealing with business organization, product range, and clientele.