During the First World War many shops -up to 500- had to close because of the call up of staff and shortages of meat. Eastmans's case was not unique and the situation of multiple shop firms deteriorated to the extent that by the late 1910s-early 1920s their future was uncertain. This led to a wave of amalgations. In 1923 the Union Cold Storage Company Ltd bought Eastmans Ltd as well as its competitors the British and Argentine Meat Company Ltd, W. &. R. Fletcher Ltd and the Argenta Meat Company Ltd. The Union Cold Storage Company Ltd had been founded in the 1890s in Liverpool by the controversial Vestey brothers, William and Edmund. The names of the different shops, including Eastmans, were kept but in the 1960, in order to establish a strong national brand, most were renamed J.H. Dewhurst, after a small chain of butcher shops the Vesteys had acquired in the early 1920s. The initials were later dropped and in 1980 the shops started trading as Dewhurst the Master Butcher. However competition from supermarkets and the recession of the early 1990s led to a dramatic decline in the number of shops (from 1,700 in 1977 to 300 in the mid-1990s) and in the profitability of many outlets. In 1996 after incurring losses of £33 millions in six months, the company at the core of the Vestey empire Union International was placed into administrative receivership. The Dewhurst shops survived for another 10 years but eventually closed down in 2006.
Location: Exeter Road, Exmouth, Devon / Picture taken in April 2012