Hypermarket service station road maps - Belgium
Belgium was the second country in Europe in which supermarkets started building filling stations next to their largest stores, in the mid 1960s.
The largest Belgian supermarket operators were GB and Delhaize and both built up small chains of petrol stations before the so-called "padlock laws" prevented them from expanding into hypermarkets along the French pattern. Possibly as a result, in the 1970s they both sold their petrol operations to Shell (GB) and Mobil (Delhaize).
With supermarket petrol stations firmly under the control of major companies, discounting was carefully controlled, allowing Belgium to retain many more small filling stations. One deep discount operator - Colruyt - has attempted to break this pattern, by building around 45 unmanned discount stations at its stores, using the DATS 24 brand, but in general supermarkets have claimed a lower share of the petrol market in Belgium than in France, Britain or Germany. The French hypermarket chains Cora and Intermarché both maintain a few stores with own brand fuel in Belgium.
Cora is a major French-based hypermarket chain that has 7 hypermarkets in Belgium, 6 of which sell own-brand petrol. Its origins go back to the late 19th century, when the Belgian Louis Delhaize, a brother of the Delhaize who established the leading Belgian retailer, set up retailing interests in Northern France. In 1968 this company established its first French hypermarkets, under franchise from Carrefour, but in 1974 introduced its own Cora brand. Today Cora, which remains part of the Louis Delhaize group, operates Cora hypermarkets, Smatch and Match supermarkets and other retail chains principally in France, Belgium and Hungary.
GB has been a leading Belgian food retailer since the late 19th century. In the mid 1970s it expanded by acquiring the Priba 2000 hypermarkets and merging with Innovation-Bon Marché, a more general retailer. In 1998 the French company Promodes acquired around 25% of GB-Inno-BM and following Carrefour's purchase of Promodes, Carrefour bought the rest of GB. Its Belgian hypermarkets now carry the Carrefour name, but like the GB supermarkets, any attached filling stations still sell Shell petrol.
No maps are known from Delhaize ("Le Lion") or Colruyt/DATS, although it is quite possible that Delhaize has sold them. Its service stations have followed the fortunes of its supplier; when Mobil traded its Belgian chain for Aral's Dutch assets, Delhaize's stations switched to Aral, and then to Q8 after it bought out Aral's operations in the country. But, as always, if you have a map from Delhaize - or DATS- then please let me know!
Text and layout © Ian Byrne, 2003-13
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