Thriving through diversity of interest

The RO is an entrepreneurial family company which has been in business for nearly 90 years.

Based upon the founding principle that the company is ‘In business to do business’ this straightforward direct approach has seen the RO thrive over the years through careful investment in a diverse range of interests, which continues to this day.

We have a long and successful heritage of investing in local economies across the UK through a variety of trading and investment businesses, which operate across multiple sectors, as well as by providing substantial support to local community charitable projects and causes.

Our philosophy

Our family way

Now in its third generation of direct Rowlandson family management, the ethos of the business is to embrace family principles and traditional values consistent with the philosophy conceived by our founder. This is borne out by our many long-serving employees and a commitment to helping others through our charitable activities. Central to our approach is to take a proactive and committed interest in all that the company involves itself in, whether commercial or charitable.

Our family values
Sir Graham Rowlandson,
Richard Rowlandson OBE,
Edward Rowlandson,
Group Managing Director

Our heritage

The future of our company is built on the strengths of its past

1933 Strongs butcher’s shop

The first butcher’s shop, acquired in 1933, the foundation of the RO’s trading enterprise.

Strongs Butchers’ shops
Garage and petrol forecourts
Strongs butcher’s shop
1940s – 1960s Garage and petrol forecourts

The garage and petrol forecourts of the 1940s, 50s and 60s were to become the ideal locations for retirement housing half a century later.

AG Fry
Garage and petrol forecourts
1950s/1960s AG Fry

AG Fry, our chain of newsagents which would increase to 80 in number.

AG Fry
1970s Undertakers

Born out of the garage business, undertakers were another successful trading venture for the RO.

Macs convenience stores
1980s Macs convenience stores

As retail patterns changed in the 1980s the RO moved its retail know-how into the development of Macs convenience stores.

Neighbourhood centres
Macs convenience stores
1980s – 1990s Neighbourhood centres

The RO would also develop the neighbourhood centres where the convenience store operated, combining a trading business with property development.

RO Supermarkets
Neighbourhood centres
1990s RO Supermarkets

Shortly after Macs was sold in 1994, RO Supermarkets was born.

Jigsaw Day Nurseries
RO Supermarkets
1990s Jigsaw Day Nurseries

Jigsaw Day Nurseries was the first trading opportunity where the RO invested alongside existing management to develop the business.

Day Nurseries
Pegasus Retirement Homes
Jigsaw Day Nurseries
1990s – 2000s Pegasus Retirement Homes

Pegasus Retirement Homes, property development and trading hand in glove.

Homes developed
Leaders Letting Agents
Pegasus Retirement Homes
2000s Leaders Letting Agents

Leaders Letting Agents, a buy and build strategy with thirty acquisitions completed in less than five years.

Acquisitions in
under five years
Commercial property
Leaders Letting Agents
2010s Commercial property

Commercial property ownership remains the engine room of the RO.

Value of property transactions in last seven years
Metis Homes
Commercial property
2010s Metis Homes

In more recent times housebuilding has become a major focus for the RO through our investment in Metis Homes.

Up to Homes a year
Staycity investment
Metis Homes
2010s Staycity investment

Sale of the 170 bed Staycity investment concludes in 2016, in what is the largest single property transaction completed by the RO.

Solar - an enlightening journey
Staycity investment
2010s Solar - an enlightening journey

Our investment into solar energy was one of the more successful business ventures in which we have been involved.

MW successfully traded
Waterside Place
Solar - an enlightening journey
2020s Waterside Place

Waterside Place on the Southampton waterfront, part of the RO's longer term property strategy.

The RO today

The RO retains a diverse range of investments through RO Real Estate as well as holding majority interests in Metis Homes and Charteroak, both businesses that have progressed through their association with us. Discover more about these companies activities by clicking on the appropriate box below.