Roelf Vos (1921 – 2 December 1992)[1] was a Tasmanian businessman who established a supermarket chain carrying his name initially in Launceston, and later throughout northern Tasmania. The equivalent in the south of the state was Purity Supermarkets established by Engel Sypkes.

Roelf Vos

Born and raised in the Netherlands, he was involved in the resistance during the second world war. He migrated with his wife and children to Australia in 1951[2] where he initially worked as a labourer on a wage of $19.[3] In 1954 he opened a gift store in Deloraine followed shortly afterwards by another in Georgetown.[4] Around 1958, he rented a small shop in Launceston,[3] a milk bar which he converted into northern Tasmania's first self-service grocery store.[2]

Old Vos signwriting on the Burnie supermarket after it was closed by Woolworths.

By 1969, he was operating eight supermarkets in Launceston, each with a car park and a combined turnover in 1969 of $3,500,000. In December 1969 he purchased two Moran & Cato shops in Ulverstone and Devonport for $250,000, and was hoping to open two new shops, one of which in Burnie.[3] He ultimately had thirteen supermarkets employing 500 people. In 1982, after he suffered two heart attacks,[1] the supermarket operations were sold to Woolworths, which continued to trade under the Vos name for 20 years.[2] Vos went on to establish the Grindelwald resort in Tasmania, modelled on Grindelwald in Switzerland.[1]

The Vos family retained ownership of the properties, including two shopping centres in the north and north west of Tasmania. They were rebranded as Woolworths in the early 2000s.

At the time of the final loss of the Roelf Vos name, the stores in Launceston included a CBD store (Wellington Street), as well as Newstead, Kings Meadows, Prospect Vale, Riverside and Newnham. The CBD Wellington Street and Newstead stores are now Coles supermarkets, and the Newnham store has closed and is now a City Mission charity store.

Roelf Vos supermarkets were colloquially referred to as Vossie's in Tasmania.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c "Succesvolle emigrant Roelf Vos overleden". Dutch Australian Weekly, online at Trove. 18 January 1993.
  2. ^ a b c "Roelf Vos". Centre for Tasmanian Historical Studies. 2006.
  3. ^ a b c "Van kruideniertje tot acht supermarkten". Dutch Australian Weekly, online at Trove. 6 March 1970.
  4. ^ "Background". Vos Construction & Joinery. Retrieved 11 April 2017.