Magazine article Management Today

Weston Makes the Best Use of the Key Ingredients

Magazine article Management Today

Weston Makes the Best Use of the Key Ingredients

Article excerpt

Allstair Blair looks at three Independent food manufacturers which have taken very different approaches to developing their business

Few companies show such continuity of management as Associated British Foods which has been run by Garry Weston since 1967. Hazlewood comes close. John Lowe took it over in the early '70s and ran it until 1991 since when one of his original partners, Peter Barr, has been in charge. But there the comparisons end. In 1977, the stock market valued the Weston family's 63% stake in ABF at [pounds]140 million - a serious fortune. Lowe, however, was barely past base in the making of his. Freshly-floated Hazlewood was worth [pounds]2 million.

Starting in the 1930s, Garry Weston's father, Garfield, built his own inheritance into bread-and-biscuit combine ABF. Acquisitions were a key ingredient, but in the '60s, according to Weston, his father went overboard. In 1965, Weston senior bought 40 companies including a leading manufacturer of parrot food. Meanwhile, Weston junior had been doing sterling work introducing Australians to Ryvita and other ABF brands.

Garry Weston has been more keen on hanging onto his heritage than making acquisitions. He sold out of parrot food and lots of other companies, but never hastily. He held on to Fine Fare for 20 years, and to his Irish supermarkets for 30. He spent lots of money on new factories for the core businesses. Not until 1991 did he make a serious acquisition, the stunningly good takeover of British Sugar. …

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