80 Years of Jempson’s

Our founder, George Thomas Jempson affectionately known as GTJ.

He purchased a little bakery shop in Peasmarsh, East Sussex from Mrs. Dunster in June 1935.

Today not only has this little shop ‘grown’ to become one of the largest family owned food supermarkets in the UK, the Jempson’s group also consists of 2 further supermarkets, 2 convenience stores, 6 cafe’s, 3 Post Office counters, petrol station and a Pharmacy.

We have a whole range of G.T. Jempson branded products available in-store all labelled using  a copy of the original logo used 80 years ago.

This is where Jempson’s started.

When George Thomas Jempson purchased this little bakery in 1935, he had never baked a loaf of bread in his life. He set up shop with his wife Winnie and retained the baker.

Baking is still at the fore of our business today, we create from scratch thousands of loaves of bread a week across 20 varieties.

This is one of our earliest photos possibly predating 1935 when George Jempson bought the Bakery at Peasmarsh.

When George bought the business for just £250 (a lot of money in those days!) it included all the bakery equipment and delivery vans.

They worked hard in those days, delivery being made in wicker baskets to all the customers in the villages.

George would only make bread from natural ingredients, he would never allow any of his bakers to buy part baked, or in later years, frozen bread. This sound decision is continued to this day in our bakery.

During the war years G.T. Jempson used to deliver bread to all the surrounding local villages.

This is one of the earliest vans GTJ purchased and the 2 delivery drivers Nigel and Denis were local lads from the village of Peasmarsh. They started work every day at 3am and finished at 6pm from Monday to Saturday.

The most popular loaves of bread were the traditional cottage loaves and the famous Jempson’s crusty farmhouse loaves, both of which are still made everyday at our Bakery in Peasmarsh.

Both of the delivery guys used to carry satchels around with them to collect the money – no cheques or credit cards then!

This is the original shop in 1968.

At this stage George continued to operate the business with his wife Winnie and son Harold. As Harold became more involved in the business as a young lad, the business grew, and where in the past all goods were sold over the counter, he convinced his parents to start displaying items on shelves or gondolas as they are now known. The store then joined the VG symbol group where it could buy grocery items at cheaper prices and so the business continued to grow.

Alongside the shop is the old bakery and storeroom, sadly no longer existing but the bakery business continues to thrive and is at the heart of everything we do at Jempson’s.

George’s son Harold joined the business in the early 1950’s following National Service overseas in the RAF. He developed the business by introducing mobile grocery stores and took on full time responsibility in late 1968 when George retired.

Harold was at the helm throughout much growth and faced many challenges until his own retirement in 2002, although he still takes a paternal interest in the business.

Jempson’s had joined the VG Buying Group and removed the old shop replacing it with a small purpose built supermarket.

Harold Jempson led the way by introducing the self service way of shopping which was a very, very new concept at that time and Jempson’s were also one of the first in the country to introduce scanning checkouts.

The small family cottage was still there and in it grew the next generation of the Jempson family! They had a small garden at the back to play in then, little did they know that a few years later that would also be gone – and another extension to the supermarket would replace it!

Brothers Andrew and Stephen Jempson took over the business from father Harold in the early 90’s, and in order to compete with increasingly aggressive rivals, Jempson’s joined NISA (National Independent Supermarkets Association) and has since become a leading player within the Association.

Upon first entry, Jempson’s had won the converted ‘Independent Grocer of the Year Award’ in 1994. Since then we have been fortunate enough to win many other awards and accolades, including Independent Supermarket of the Year, Fresh Produce Retailer of the Year, Seafood Retailer of the Year and most recently Independent Forecourt Retailer of the Year for our Petrol Filling Station and Jempson’s Express Convenience store.

Here are Stephen and Andrew Jempson with father Harold and Peasmarsh colleagues, celebrating their 1994 success.

Being part of the team at Jempson’s is like being part of the family. Many of the staff members have worked for the company for many years.  The prize for winning this accolade was £10,000 which was shared equally amongst all the staff at the time – with champagne to celebrate as well!

By 1998 the range of goods and services had grown considerably, and what started as a modest 225sq ft shop had now become over 11,000sq ft, with parking to accommodate 100 vehicles.

The photograph of the site was taken in the very early 90’s and just prior to building the Petrol Filling Station. It looked more like a quarry at this time and the Local River Board helped immensely in clearing all the earth from the site for building up their river banks on the Rother and other flood defence areas. This lasted over 3 years and then the site was level and clear for the next big expansion – the building of the new superstore in 2002.

All the buildings in this picture except for the residential property on the left were demolished. A new build was needed to take the company into the 21st century.

Jempson’s is co-owned and managed by brothers Andrew and Stephen Jempson, who are always on hand to hear any comments or suggestions you may have.

It’s not often you see them dressed in a dinner jacket and bow tie, only when they are picking up some award for excellence perhaps!

Most of the time they are pleased to welcome the customers at the entrance to the store or working on the shop floor, very much a hands on approach to business, working with the staff and colleagues alike.

The 35,000sq ft Peasmarsh Superstore was opened in January 2002 on the same site (albeit considerably extended) chosen by George Thomas Jempson 80 years earlier.

What was once a village store is now a shopping complex, with 280 parking spaces a post office and petrol station.

A ‘Home and Garden’ centre will be build within the site in the not too distant future.

The Peasmarsh Superstore as it is today.

Much has changed since 1935, but certain values remain constant and they find expression in Jempson’s 3 generations and 80 years on.

Our Mission Statement

Jempson’s proud to serve Peasmarsh and the local community since 1935.