A little history
An innovative idea – a modern supermarket in Israel
Tel Aviv in 1956: low-rise, oriental-style buildings alongside Bauhaus structures, small family businesses, and the Austerity Period, which followed the birth of the State of Israel. From this scene emerged Ben-Zion Ben-Haim - a young entrepreneur with a revolutionary idea: a modern supermarket in Israel like the ones which existed only in the United States and Canada at the time.
Like high-tech entrepreneurs of our time, Ben-Haim sought investors to turn his idea from dream to reality. His first step was to obtain a list of Jewish supermarket owners and senior executives in North America from the US-based Food Marketing Institute (FMI). With this list in hand, he approached the Minister of Trade and Industry, Pinhas Sapir to ask for a scholarship to study, in the United States, how to manage a modern supermarket. Sapir referred him to the scholarships director - Haim Feinberg.
A fateful meeting
At that meeting, Ben-Zion Ben-Haim and Haim Feinberg realized they shared the same revolutionary idea! Haim Feinberg also shared the idea with Ministry of Health industrial engineer Yehiel Hordes. The three men met the very same day and decided to found a new company for a self-service supermarket chain in Israel.
Founded in 20 December 1956, the chain was named Shufra-sal to reflect its three founders’ vision: a modern supermarket chain that would offer top quality products. The name was derived from the Aramaic idiom “shufra deshufra”, which means “of the highest quality” and the word “sal” in Hebrew, which means “basket”.
When the Shufra-sal pioneers returned to Israel, word of their revolutionary venture reached Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion. The latter favorably viewed the effect of a modern supermarket on the Israeli economy and immediately decided to assist the company’s founders. He referred the entrepreneurs to the chairman of Israel Bonds in Canada, a Jew by the name of Bertram, who also shared the entrepreneurs’ dream. The next day, everyone met at Hasharon Hotel in Herzliya, resulting in the formation of a group of Canadian investors, which also invested in the project.
The hard work paid off. The money raised was sufficient to establish the first branch, which opened in August 1958 at 77-79 Ben Yehuda Street in the heart of young Tel Aviv. A modern supermarket in central Tel Aviv was a novelty, which consumers embraced with enthusiasm - more than 2,500 shoppers turned up on the first day of business. Local consumer behavior patterns changed quickly, with convenient shopping at the supermarket becoming an everyday norm.
Although the supermarket naturally fitted in with the routine and shopping habits of the Israeli consumer, keeping the business going was not easy. To fill the many shelves of the big store, which covered a large area, suppliers and manufacturers had to deliver far more goods and in much greater variety than ever before.
The challenges have changed over the years, but the effect of the chain on Israeli society is written in history: Shufersal revolutionized the Israeli consumer market, bringing the country closer to global consumer standards.
Today, Shufersal is Israel’s largest retailer, with 514,000 sq.m. of floor space, where a vast range of products are sold. In addition to food, Shufersal stores sell non-food items - from cleaning products and toiletries, beauty and body care products, to housewares, appliances and electronics, gifts, recreation products, clothing, home textiles, organic and health food products, vitamins, and more.
The revolutionary initiative that resulted in the founding of Shufersal continues to this day, expressed - decades later - in unrelenting creativity and innovation in every area of the Company’s business.
1958 - festive opening: Shufersal opens its first supermarket on Ben Yehuda Street in Tel Aviv.
1966 - manufacturers print their brand names on plastic bags in Israel for the first time.
1967 - learning from the great powers: in-store advertising broadcasts.
1977 - discounts sell: direct mailing of coupons and coupons printed locally in newspapers for the first time.
1978 - heading north: the opening of the first big store outside a city, at the Check Post junction in Haifa.
1979 - taking giants steps toward the 21st century: the first electronic cash register is installed, replacing mechanical cash registers.
1980 - in the major leagues: Shufersal holds its IPO on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.
1981 - the end of an era: the first branch – Shufersal Zahala - is computerized.
1983 - home cooking comes to the supermarket: prepared foods and the aromas of home at the deli counter at Shufersal in Kfar Saba.
1984 - the aroma of freshness: the first in-store bakery. For the first time, bread and baked goods are sold hot out of the oven. Customers won’t leave the supermarkets because of the fantastic aromas.
1985 - round-the-clock: the supermarket at the Ayalon Mall stays open 24 hours a day to provide a solution for night owls.
1986 - Buy now, pay later: for the first time in Israel, a supermarket offers customers credit on food purchases.
1989 - Telesal: the entire supermarket is a phone call away.
1990 - listening to the environment: use of biodegradable plastic bags for the good of the environment.
1992 - continuing to work for the environment: bottle recycling machines and carton shredders.
Health comes first – Israel’s first in-store pharmacy is opened.
1994 - Going overseas: Shufersal becomes a partner in a supermarket chain in Hungary.
1995 - The Universe Tel Hanan supermarket opens;
a Discount Bank branch opens inside a Shufersal branch;
the Supercard customer club is launched.
1997 - Shufersal gets a Green Card: a public offering in New York, where the share is traded until December 2003;
The Cosmos mega-store chain is launched, pioneering the one-stop-shop principle in Israel.
1998 - private label Superclass is launched;
The family expands: Kiryat Shufersal (the Shufersal campus) is established in Rishon LeZion - featuring the first logistics center for distributing goods to the company’s branches.
2000 - launch of the Machsanei Mazon (Food Warehouse) chain.
2001 - record profits: a major source of pride at the company.
2005 - revving up: Shufersal launches the chain’s rebranding;
Acquisition of the Clubmarket supermarket chain;
The Shufersal Deal chain is launched, under the “Every Day Low Price” concept.
2006 - thinking big: Shufersal Big is launched as a one-stop-shop hypermarket;
Second Lebanon War – Shufersal is drafted to make food deliveries to air raid shelters in the north;
The Shufersal credit card is launched;
The neighborhood supermarket chain, Shufersal Sheli (My Shufersal) is launched;
2007 - the Shufersal customer club is relaunched under the Shufersal brand;
2008 - Shufersal marks its 50th anniversary, launching an annual community volunteering program nationwide in collaboration with company employees;
2011 - Shufersal installs self-service check-out counters at its branches;
2012 - airing out the closet and getting a new look – the Shufersal Sheli format is rebranded to include the name of the town or neighborhood;
The Yesh Hesed format, targeting the haredi community with Glatt Kosher products, is launched;
2013 - Shufersal goes online: Shufersal Yashir (Shufersal Direct) is replaced by the Shufersal Online website, which is launched together with a mobile app.
2014 - lowering the high cost of living: Shufersal launches its leadership strategy, announcing significant price cuts
2015 - more of the private label: the private label is expanded to include premium products;
2016 - from peaches to fridges: Shufersal online expands to sell home appliances.
The family continues to grow: Shufersal inaugurates its temperature-controlled Logistics Center at Shoham, one of the most sophisticated centers of its kind in the world.