Roys of Wroxham

Roys of Wroxham

Roys of Wroxham is a very well known and popular Shopping Centre in Wroxham, which is considered to be amongst one of the main hubs of the boating industry on the Norfolk Broads.

In the Beginning

Roys started life in the village of Coltishall in 1895 as a general store, which soon proved to be a very successful venture and the Roys brothers, Alfred and Arnold looked to expand. Dereham was the next store to be opened and then they found land in Hoveton St John, just a mile from Wroxham and their third store was born.

Although the address of the store is Hoveton St John, all the supplies arriving at Wroxham Station were addressed to The Roys Brothers LNER Station, Wroxham, so the name Roys of Wroxham stuck.

Roys of Wroxham very quickly became a thriving business helped not only by passing customers on their way to Cromer, then one of the most popular Victorian holiday retreats, who not only stopped to shop but would also hire  a skippered sailing wherry to explore the rivers, thus began boating on the Broads.

Wroxham station brought in the tourists who increasingly wanted to experience the boating life and Roys of Wroxham was perfectly placed and in a position to accommodate these customers and their needs.  

The War Years

When World War I broke out in 1914 the Dereham store was closed and leased to International Stores so the Roy brothers could focus their efforts on Wroxham and Coltishall.

After the war, trade began to develop fast, resulting in motorised delivery vans replacing the horse and cart delivery service. These red vans were purchased from the Royal Mail so the Roy brothers adopted the red as their corporate colours.

After the war finished, the brothers bought Hunt’s Bakery in Coltishall. It proved a great success and in its heyday the bakery employed 50 staff, supplied the Roys stores and a large daily delivery round for customers encompassing 4 horse drawn carts and 2 Ford motor vans. It's success lasted until 1975 when new laws following the bakers’ strike of 1974 caused the Coltishall bakery to finally close. 

Over the next few years the company flourished, particularly in Wroxham where the company had expanded into tailoring, boots & shoes, drapery & millinery, pharmacy, ironmongery, furniture, carpets and a motor garage. Roys even provided the street lighting and public lavatories. In 1931 the headquarters of the company was moved to Wroxham and the company Roys (Wroxham) Ltd was formed.

World War II brought many changes and the business adapted to them. For instance during the war more woman were given previously male dominated jobs and many of these woman continued their employment after the war ended.

Embracing the 20th Century

Following the deaths of Arnold and Alfred Roy in the early 1950’s, the business passed to Alfred’s children, Fred, Peter, Paul and Elizabeth. Fred Roy was appointed Chairman and Managing Director and, following fact finding trips to Australia, Canada and North America, introduced the concept of an ‘Out-of-Town Shopping Centre’ at Wroxham.

Roys Grocery was changed to a self-service system and parking offered for the expanding number of families owning motor cars.

Plans were made for a large new store in Wroxham, involving changes to road layouts and public services. The new store, with 100 car parking spaces opened in July 1966.

The larger, out of town, self-service supermarkets proved popular with the public who loved the greater choice of products and ease of getting all their shopping in one place. The need for grocery delivery rounds lessened and were finally stopped in 1968. 

The discounting style adopted by all supermarkets of that time required bulk buying. The supermarket was expanded in 1973 & 1981 and a new food hall opened in the Eaton Centre just south of Norwich. In 1978 Roys became an early member of the grocery buying group NISA in order to further increase the ability to bulk buy and compete with national chains.

A Major fire destroyed the Department Store in Wroxham in May 1995. The new department store rose from the ashes and was completed in 1996, 40 years after it’s predecessor had opened.

Into the Future

When Fred Roy passed away in 1994 his brother Peter succeeded him and served as Chairman of the Board until his death in 2004 but not before his two sons Edward and Paul, representing the third generation of the family, had joined the board of directors.

Under their leadership Roys has continued to flourish and diversify buying the Broadland Motor Company petrol filling station in Wroxham (2011), opening a new store in Beccles (2012), acquiring Highway Garden & Leisure in Framingham Pigot (2013) and upgrading to an e-commerce website in 2013.

Roys to this day remains a family owned independent business and is looking forward to meeting the exciting new challenges of the 21st century and quite rightly is known by the locals as “The World’s Largest Village Store” a title given back in the 1930's that to this day has never been seriously challenged.......

Roys Wroxham LTD
NR12 8DB