Londis was established in Great Britain in 1959 as a communally owned company, with each retailer owning a share in the parent company. The name Londis was a contraction of "London District Stores". However, in 2004, the parent company was sold to the Irish Musgrave wholesale chain, bringing it under the same ownership as Budgens, which has now adopted a similar franchise-based business model.
In Ireland, the Londis format is controlled by grocer-owned wholesaler ADM Londis plc.
Allied Dublin Merchants was a co-operative of grocers in Ireland founded in 1954. Its subsidiary, ADM Londis Ltd, began in 1970 when it acquired the Londis master franchise for Ireland. In 1995, it bought the rights to the brand for the island of Ireland outright. Its only remaining link with Londis UK is the name. A 1975 name change to Allied Distributive Merchants preceded the 2005 formation of ADM Londis plc.
ADM Londis describes itself as a retailers' co-operative, and its members own 360 stores. Changing from a legal co-operative to an unlisted public limited company in 2004, ADM Londis also claims to be the only Irish symbol group where retailers can own the company through share holdings and realise the value in their shares at market price.
From 1998 to 2004, a number of petrol stations in Ireland had Londis-branded forecourt stores as part of an agreement with Tedcastles Oil Products (TOP), a major Irish fuel retailer. These stores, and several high street stores owned by TOP Petrol Stations, were called Londis Topshop. In 2004 however, ADM Londis and TOP dissolved their agreement. ADM then acquired the jointly owned Londis Topshop stores and rebranded them as Londis, using the opportunity to rebrand the stores with the new Londis logo.
ADM Londis introduced the Londis Plus brand for larger, supermarket-format stores.
== Resume of dispute between B Shareholders of ADM Londis plc and the company.
The history of this dispute goes back to 1998 when the then co-operative movement called Allied Distributive Merchants Limited changed the rules of the company. These rules contained, inter alia, a rule creating a new class of share, i.e a “B” share. The purpose of this share was to prevent “messy”, non trading members from attending meeting and creating trouble. The words of the new rule 10 (Categories of shares) as they apply to this matter stated that
“Subject to Rule 16 the A Ordinary Shares and the B Ordinary Shares shall rank in all respects pari passu save that the B Ordinary Shares shall not entitle the holders thereof to be Directors of the Society or to nominate any Member or to be nominated for any election to the Board or to attend or vote at or to requisition any meeting of the Society or to receive any rebate or cash dividend from the Society”
All members passed these rules in the confidence that their shareholding would always have the same value as A shares because of the use of the words “pari passu”. B Shareholders are created when members cease trading with the company for a period of twelve months and is generally because of their retirement. Had they known the consequences of the rule change there is no doubt it would not have been passed as most people eventually retire and they would not want to see the value of their shares devalued. Under the aegis of the co-operative all shares had the same value and could not be traded.
During the year 2004 Allied Distributive Merchants (the co-operative) demutualised and became ADM Londis plc. The result of this was that existing trading A shareholders/members who wanted to retire had the ability to sell their shares on an internal “grey market” at a price that was over forty times the value of the B shares whilst at the same time that B shares were still valued at ”par”.
In April 2006 a Representative Group of B Shareholders was formed. This group made many representation to the board of ADM Londis plc to which the latter steadfastly refuted our claim to grossly unfair treatment and has continued to do so. The dispute is ongoing.