Associated British Foods

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Associated British Foods plc
Public limited company
Traded asLSEABF
FTSE 100 Component
IndustryFood processing
Founded1935; 83 years ago (1935)
HeadquartersLondon, W1
United Kingdom
Key people
Charles Sinclair (Chairman)
George G. Weston (CEO)
ProductsFood, ingredients
Revenue£15,357 million (2017)[1]
£1,336 million (2017)[1]
£1,211 million (2017)[1]
OwnerWittington Investments, 54.5%
Number of employees
132,590 (2017)[1]
SubsidiariesBritish Sugar

Associated British Foods plc (ABF) is a British multinational food processing and retailing company whose headquarters are in London. Its ingredients division is the world's second-largest producer of both sugar and baker's yeast and a major producer of other ingredients including emulsifiers, enzymes and lactose.[2] Its grocery division is a major manufacturer of both branded and private label grocery products and includes the brands Mazola, Ovaltine, Ryvita, Jordans and Twinings.[2] Its retail division, Primark, has around 345 stores with over 13,900,000 sq ft (1,290,000 m2)[1] of selling space across Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, the UK, and the United States.[2]

Associated British Foods is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index.[3]


The company was founded by Canadian W. Garfield Weston in 1935, initially as Food Investments Limited, with the name changing to Allied Bakeries Limited a month later.[4] In 1960 the name was changed again to Associated British Foods. In 1963 the Company acquired Fine Fare, a leading British supermarket chain.[5] Following the death of the founder in 1978, control of the company was passed on to his son Garry, while the North American operations fell to his son Galen.[6]

The company sold Fine Fare in 1986 and in 1991 went on to acquire British Sugar.[7] In 1997 ABF sold its retail operations in Ireland (including Northern Ireland) to Tesco.[8] These businesses were: Quinnsworth and Crazy Prices in the Republic of Ireland and Stewarts Supermarket Limited and Crazy Prices in Northern Ireland. This sale also included the Stewarts Winebarrel off-licence chain, Lifestyle Sports & Leisure Ltd (a retail sports and leisure business), Kingsway Fresh Foods (a meat processing facility) and Daily Wrap Produce (a fruit and vegetable packaging plant).[9]

In May 1994, Greggs acquired the Bakers Oven chain from the company.[10]

Old Argo laundry starch box, photographed at Edmonds Historical Museum.

In 2000, the company sold its interests in Burton's Biscuits.[11] In 2002, it acquired the Mazola corn oil, Argo & Kingsfords corn starch, Karo and Golden Griddle syrups, and Henri's dressing brands, along with several Canadian brands, from Unilever;[12][13] in 2004 it acquired the Tone's spice business and Fleischman yeast business from Burns Philp;[14] and in 2007 it purchased Patak's Indian food business.[15]

On 26 March 2011, Associated British Foods, and its parent company Wittington Investments, were targeted over tax avoidance by UK Uncut during anti-cuts protests.[16] The tax avoidance scheme involved moving capital between ABF/Primark and the affiliated Luxembourg entity ABF European Holdings & Co SNC by means of interest-free loans, avoiding tax of about £9.7 million per year.[17][18] The protest took the form of a mass sit-in in Fortnum & Mason.[19]

In February 2013, the firm was forced to deny "illegal and immoral" tax evasion after it was accused by an international charity of moving its profits outside Zambia to reduce its tax bill. ActionAid said Zambia Sugar, a unit of AB Foods, had made profits of $123 million since 2007 but had paid "virtually no corporate tax" in Zambia.[20]

In October 2013, the company denied being involved in unscrupulous uses of land, in an article containing reports of forced evictions by other companies.[21]




  • AB Sugar
  • AB Agri Ltd
  • AB Enzymes
  • AB Mauri, bakery ingredients
  • Abitec Corporation
  • Abitec Ltd
  • ACH Food Companies (AC HUMKO from 1995 to 2000), an American subsidiary of Associated British Foods, previously part of Kraft Foods from 1952 to 1995.
  • ACH Food México[23]
  • Allied Mills
  • British Sugar
  • Frontier (50% joint venture with Cargill)
  • George Weston Foods
  • G Costa: sauces and ethnic (non-UK) brands
  • Illovo Sugar
  • Primark – known as Penneys in the Republic of Ireland
  • Westmill Foods
  • PGP International, Inc.
  • SPI Pharma, Inc.

Board of directors[edit]

Controlling shareholder[edit]

Some 54.5% of ABF is owned by Wittington Investments.[25] 79.2% of the share capital of Wittington Investments is owned by the Garfield Weston Foundation, which is one of the UK's largest grant-making charitable trusts, and the remainder is owned by members of the Weston family. Wittington Investments also owns Fortnum & Mason and Heal & Son. George G. Weston became chief executive of ABF on 1 April 2005, and Galen Weston, the chief executive of George Weston Ltd., is a non-executive director. Garth Weston is Regional President of AB Mauri.[26]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Annual Report and Accounts 2017" (PDF). Retrieved 25 February 2018.
  2. ^ a b c "Introduction". Associated British Foods plc. Archived from the original on 22 September 2010. Retrieved 26 September 2010.
  3. ^ "Associated British Foods | Crunchbase". Crunchbase. Retrieved 2018-02-19.
  4. ^ "Bakers Federation". Bakers Federation. Archived from the original on 7 April 2010. Retrieved 15 May 2010.
  5. ^ Ritchie, Berry (24 January 2001). "Obituary: Sir Alistair Grant". The Independent. UK. Retrieved 15 May 2010.
  6. ^ "Garry Weston". The Daily Telegraph. 16 February 2002. Retrieved 25 February 2018.
  7. ^ "Obituary: Garry Weston". The Independent. UK. 16 February 2002. Retrieved 15 May 2010.
  8. ^ Pain, Derek (14 April 1997). "ABF's £1.5bn cash mountain provides investors with food for thought". The Independent. UK. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
  9. ^ "Regulation (EEC) No 4064/89 Merger Procedure" (PDF). EU. 5 May 1997. p. 2. Retrieved 25 February 2018.
  10. ^ "Greggs - history". 16 January 2010. Archived from the original on 16 January 2010. Retrieved 15 November 2016.
  11. ^ Wootliff, Benjamin (31 October 2000). "Wagon Wheels roll west as ABF sells Burton's". The Daily Telegraph. UK. Retrieved 15 May 2010.
  12. ^ "ACH Foods Company Overview". Archived from the original on 15 December 2013. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  13. ^ "ACH Food Companies, Inc. Buys Unilever's Mazola Corn Oil and Associated Brands". 23 April 2002. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  14. ^ "Burns Philp & Co Ltd". Retrieved 15 May 2010.
  15. ^ "AB Foods buys curry firm Patak's" BBC News Online Tuesday, 29 May 2007
  16. ^ UK Uncut Occupy Tax Dodgers Fortnum and Mason Archived 29 March 2011 at the Wayback Machine.. 26 March 2011.
  17. ^ "ABF European Holdings & Co SNC accounts 2008" (PDF). Retrieved 16 February 2013.
  18. ^ "Tax Research UK article". 28 March 2011. Retrieved 16 February 2013.
  19. ^ Video: Occupation of Fortnum & Mason by UKuncut was peaceful, by Sunny Hundal. 27 March 2011.
  20. ^ AB Foods denies avoiding tax in Zambia Holiday, International: Reuters, 10 February 2013
  21. ^ Merrill, Jamie (2 October 2013), written at London, Oxfam accuses Coke and Pepsi of taking land from the poor, United Kingdom: The Independent
  22. ^ "Associated British Foods plc has acquired the Leicester-based sports nutrition company H5 Ltd, trading as High5". Retrieved 14 November 2017.
  23. ^ "ACH Food Companies - Mexico". Archived from the original on 17 March 2015. Retrieved 15 March 2015.
  24. ^ a b c d e f g h "Associated British Foods plc - About us - Board and committees - Board of directors". Retrieved 15 March 2015.
  25. ^ Associated British Foods. "Annual Report 2011" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 April 2012. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
  26. ^ "Trustees | The Duke of Edinburgh's International Award". Retrieved 2018-02-19.

External links[edit]