History

The Dench legacy began …..

In 1920 when William Dench opened his first Dench butchery in Puckle Street Moonee Ponds, Melbourne, he prided himself on offering unsurpassed quality of meat and smallgoods at very affordable prices. Little wonder the business grew very quickly and before long comprised several more shops in surrounding areas.

Dench used a succession of Harley Davidson motorcycles with modified sidecars for home deliveries from the 1920s to the 1940s, which made life interesting for both driver and customer.

William’s son Harry Dench, along with his brother Ron, took control from the 1950s of the rapidly expanding Dench retail and wholesale divisions, a smallgoods factory, and an abattoirs at Echuca (1947-1984).

Harry, Foundation President of the Victorian Meatworks Association (1961-76) and Chairman of the Australian Meatworks Federal Council (1974-76), was awarded an MBE from the Queen in 1979 for his achievements within the meat industry and outstanding contributions in the community service sector.

Harry was also a well known singer/musician with a rich baritone voice, recording several LP’s (vinyl records for those who don’t know) mainly within Salvation Army circles.

Bruce Dench (Harry’s son), also a very accomplished musician/composer, worked in the office at the Echuca Abbatoirs 1950-1956, travelling up the old Hume Highway in an Austin A40 (very slowly!) once a week from Melbourne. Bruce then transferred to the Melbourne head office, and eventually found that juggling increasingly more involvement in the business, three small children, an Arts Degree at Melbourne University, and heavy involvement in music within the Salvation Army, made life very interesting indeed.

Did you know?…Up until the early 1950s, carcase meat was delivered to the butchers’ shops on the back of large tray-bodied trucks (Dench used Chevrolets). The meat was placed on a bed of straw, and covered with a tarpaulin supported by a ridge-pole. Ropes kept the tarpaulin in place. There was no refrigeration. Deliveries from the country were made in the same way, and it was a messy, unhygienic practice, especially in summer. Thankfully, the laws changed to require insulated container bodies and refrigeration, by the mid-1950s.

Business was booming throughout most of the 70′s with several more shops being built and bought to bring the tally to a total of 18 shops at one point.

Special mention of special people: Colin Pretty 1972-2007, including roles as Shop Manager, Supervisor, and General Manager, and Bruce’s right-hand man for many years, now with his own wholesale and retail businesses. Joan Millar 1946-1992 at Head Office, supporting Bruce and, before him, Harry.

We wouldn’t have had the success over the years without these and other wonderful people along the journey.

Bruce’s three children ; Roger, Simon & Megan are fourth generation operators heavily involved in maintaining the company’s integrity and sustainability for generations to come.

Roger Dench, with a background in chartered accountancy, took over the running of the business from 2008 updating many operating procedures throughout the company with a focus on Food Safety and Customer Service, until leaving in 2011 to work for a friend.

Fast Forward to 2012 where Simon Dench, (now C.E.O.), along with Megan Dench BA (22 years Adminstration) and Bruce, share the passion and responsibilities associated with maintaining such a consistently high level of quality products, expertise and customer service in the retail meat industry.

We hope to see you at one of our stores, hope you continue to be delighted with our service and products and thank YOU for choosing to shop with us.

Dench Meat & Chicken