Joseph Gerald Fo­gel

The Jewish Chronicle - - OBITUARIES - STEVEN FO­GEL


THE BUSI­NESS­MAN and phi­lan­thropist Joseph Gerald Fo­gel was one of the last English JPs to take the ti­tle Judge. A kind and mod­est man of im­mense in­tegrity, he prac­tised briefly as an ar­chi­tect on leav­ing the RAF and then, with his broth­ers, was among sev­eral Jewish fam­i­lies whose re­tail busi­nesses were li­onised by the City af­ter the Sec­ond World War. This year Fo­gel was se­lected by the J C as one of its 50 men­sches.

The broth­ers founded the DIY spe­cial­ist Home Charm Stores, fore­run­ner of Texas Home­care. Fo­gel also founded pa­trons’ com­mit­tees at char­i­ties such as Ravenswood and then Chai. He con­tin­ued work­ing at the can­cer care char­ity un­til af­ter his 90th year, al­ways pre­fer­ring to do­nate anony­mously. He was a loyal mem­ber of Hamp­stead Gar­den Sub­urb Syn­a­gogue.

Fo­gel was ed­u­cated at Up­ton House Cen­tral School, Hack­ney, in 1936, and was bar­mitz­vah at Lee Bridge Road Syn­a­gogue. Af­ter the fam­ily moved to Finch­ley he trained as an ar­chi­tect at the then Re­gents Street Poly­tech­nic. The de­ci­sion proved sig­nif­i­cant. His study of build­ing meth­ods, on which he lec­tured af­ter the war as an RAF Ed­u­ca­tion Vo­ca­tional Train­ing Of­fi­cer, and his de­sign work dur­ing the post-war con­struc­tion boom, inspired his part in a dis­tri­bu­tion evo­lu­tion, in which dec­o­rat­ing ma­te­ri­als were sold di­rect to the public in wall­pa­per shops.

Fo­gel vol­un­teered for the Univer­sity of Lon­don Air Squadron, was called up in Oc­to­ber 1942, and in 1943 joined the RAF. He wanted to be a pi­lot but ow­ing to de­fi­cient eye­sight he trained as a nav­i­ga­tor. He at­tended train­ing cen­tres in Canada, first Man­i­toba and later Win­nipeg. In 1944 he went to Ger­many be­fore re­turn­ing to Lon­don. He was posted to Northolt to train for the spe­cial oper­a­tions flight crew, where he was pro­moted to of­fi­cer rank as a flight lieu­tenant. Later he be­came a com­mis­sioned of­fi­cer.

Fo­gel flew Air Min­istry courier mis­sions to Europe,tasked with pro­vid­ing Field Mar­shall Mont­gomery with his bat­tle or­ders. The crew had to fly with­out radar, of­ten in ap­palling weather con­di­tions to avoid in­ter­cep­tion.

Af­ter the war Fo­gel joined the fam­ily busi­ness, Supre­mus Tile, and in 1952, he found empty dou­ble shops in Peck­ham and Dal­ston, whose for­mat was a fire­place shop ad­join­ing a wall­pa­per and paint shop. By the end of the 1950s this be­came the mul­ti­ple store Home Charm Stores, one of Bri­tain’s early and well-known DIY busi­nesses, which he ran with his two broth­ers and later, his nephew.

They rev­o­lu­tionised the high street by bring­ing in mod­ern wall­pa­per and paint es­tab­lish­ments. Gerald’s spe­cial­ity was site find­ing, lease ne­go­ti­a­tion and shop de­sign. The busi­ness be­came the fore­run­ner of the first out-of-town su­per­stores of the ’80s. By then the com­pany was trad­ing as Texas DIY.

Joseph Gerald Fo­gel: he pi­o­neered the out-of-town su­per­store revo­lu­tion Along the way they had added Dix­elda, a ware­house busi­ness.

In 1972 these en­ter­prises were fused to­gether in a public com­pany of which Gerald was the first chair­man and his brother Manny, the man­ag­ing di­rec­tor. The flota­tion raised nearly £250,000 worth of fresh cap­i­tal. Af­ter 27 years he stood down as chair­man, con­tin­u­ing briefly as a di­rec­tor.

The fam­ily sold its in­ter­ests to Lad­broke in 1987. Less than a decade later the busi­ness was sold to Sains­bury plc and even­tu­ally be­came part of Home­base. Gerald wrote to Lord Sains­bury to con­grat­u­late him in 1995, and David Sains­bury replied, ex­press­ing his hope that the busi­ness could con­tinue in the fam­ily en­tre­pre­neur­ial tra­di­tion.

Fo­gel helped his younger son, David, to set up Hob­bies and Mod­els, later Toys­tack, which was even­tu­ally sold to Ham­leys, where David served as a di­rec­tor. Apart from his busi­ness in­ter­ests, Fo­gel launched a West End club called The Pan­dora. As a founder mem­ber he broke the ban on un­der-18s, when he in­vited two beau­ti­ful 17-year-old iden­ti­cal twins, Jac­que­line and Benita New­man to the club. He mar­ried Benita in 1950 at Finch­ley Syn­a­gogue. They started mar­ried life in Gold­ers Green but later, he bought and de­signed their house in Hamp­stead Gar­den Sub­urb.

Ap­pointed a Jus­tice of the Peace in April, 1972, Fo­gel served on the Enfield bench, be­came chair­man, and re­tired in 1993. He was also ap­pointed a judge de­spite his lack of for­mal le­gal qual­i­fi­ca­tions, an oc­ca­sional pro­ce­dure en­abling a few distin­guished mag­is­trates to as­sist with the work of the Crown Court. He stepped down in Jan­uary 1996, aged 72. Fo­gel was an ac­tive mem­ber of Ajex, the Jewish ex-ser­vice­men’s or­gan­i­sa­tion and marched with them on Re­mem­brance Days. He is sur­vived by Benita, their sons Steven and David, and sev­eral grand­chil­dren.

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