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Northern Foods plc
Type Public (LSE: NFDS)
Founded 1937 as Northern Dairies
Headquarters Leeds, West Yorkshire, England
Key people Anthony Hobson, (Chairman)
Stefan Barden, (CEO)
Industry Food
Revenue £931.9 million (2008)
Operating income £43.7 million (2008)
Net income £34.5 million (2008)
Employees 10,767 (2008)
Subsidiaries Gunstones bakery, Solway Foods, Fox's Biscuits, Green Isle Foods, Dalepak Foods, Hollands Pies, Pennine Foods, Matthew Walker

Northern Foods plc (LSE: NFDS) is a British food manufacturer headquartered in Leeds in the north of England. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index.



The business was founded by Alec Horsley in 1937 as a family-run dairy business based in Holme on Spalding Moor.[1] In 1942 the business was registered as Northern Dairies and became a public company in 1956.[1] In 1962 Horsley persuaded Christopher Haskins, the future Chairman, to join the business as a condition of marrying his daughter.[2]

In 1972 the Company changed its name to Northern Foods as it diversified into general food production.[1]

In the 1970s it bought Park Cake Bakeries, Oldham and Smiths Flour Mills in 1972, Fox's Biscuits in 1977 and Pork Farms in 1978.[1]

Acquisitions continued in the 1980s, under the leadership of Christopher Haskins who became Chairman in 1980, with Dorset Chilled Foods in 1981, Bowyers and Elkes Biscuits in 1985, Batchelors in 1986 and Evesham Foods in 1988.[1]

In 1987 the Company built the most advanced food factory in Europe, the Fenlands Food Factory in Grantham[1] and dedicated it entirely to Marks & Spencer.

In the 1990s it acquired Palethorpes in 1990, Park Cake Bakeries, Trafford Park Bakery, Kara Foods, Express Dairies and Eden Vale in 1991, Mathew Walker in 1992, Vanderheul in 1993, Green Isle Foods in 1995, Cavaghan & Grey and George Payne & Co. in 1998 and Pyewipe in 1999.[1]

In 2000 it acquired a 40% stake in Solway Foods (later increased to 100%) and R&K Wise and in 2002 it bought Lacemont and Fox's Confectionery.[1]

In 2002 it started a programme of disposals, selling Vanderheul, Ski and Munch Bunch in 2002[1] and Fox's Confectionery and Batchelors in 2003.[1]

Following the resignation of Chief Executive Jo Stewart in 2003[3] the former Shell executive Pat O’Driscoll was appointed Chief Executive in March 2004.[1]

The Company went further with its programme of disposals in 2004 selling Emile Tissot, Eden Vale and Cavaghan & Gray Seafood.[4]

In 2005 the Corporate Headquarters moved to Leeds and Evesham Foods and the London Road site of Cavaghan & Gray in Carlisle were both closed that year.[1]

In 2006 the Company announced a further radical refocus of the business, targeting disposal of its chilled distribution, flour milling, cakes, speciality bread and chilled pastry businesses;[5] it also closed its Green Isle Boyle site and its Trafford Park Bakery.[6] . These businesses were sold to a private equity group, Vision Capital.

Following the resignation of Pat O'Driscoll as Chief Executive in February 2007,[7] Stefan Barden was appointed to the post.

In 2007 the Company acquired Ethnic Cuisine, a ready meals business based in Swansea.[8]

In 2008 it bought the Chilled Soup facilities of Baxters Food Group[9] and closed the Fenland Foods factory in Grantham.[10].

In 2009 it proposed to establish a new "super" biscuit plant by combining the operations of its plants at Batley and Uttoxeter, at a new site. Discussions are underway to decide the location of this.[11]. Also in the same year Northern Foods announced it was planning to close its Hull factory which had formerly been part of Cavaghan & Gray.[12]


The Company's brands can be summarised as follows:[13]



Own Branded Production for Customers


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "History". Northern Foods. Retrieved 2008-10-05.  
  2. ^ "Pastures new for milk man turned rural tsar". The Guardian. November 18 2001. Retrieved 2008-04-28.  
  3. ^ "Northern Foods boss quits". BBC News. 4 September, 2003. Retrieved 2008-04-28.  
  4. ^ "End of era for historic food firm". BBC News. 24 March, 2005. Retrieved 2008-04-28.  
  5. ^ "Northern Foods unveils sell-off". BBC News. 31 May 2006. Retrieved 2008-04-28.  
  6. ^ "Northern Foods to shed 900 jobs". BBC News. 24 August 2006. Retrieved 2008-04-28.  
  7. ^ "Northern Foods' chief executive exits". The Independent. 2 February 2007. Retrieved 2008-04-28.  
  8. ^ "Ready-made expansion for food firm". Western Mail. November 23 2007. Retrieved 2008-04-28.  
  9. ^ "Northern Foods to ramp up chilled foods production". Sharecast. January 11 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-05.  
  10. ^ "Closed M&S food plant sparks row". The Telegraph. May 28 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-05.  
  11. ^ "Leeds-based Northern Foods makes no comment on Batley Fox's biscuit factory as it reports robust Christmas trading". The Yorkshire Evening Post. January 13 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-14.  
  12. ^ Northern Foods to close Hull site BBC News, 27 May 2009
  13. ^ "Our products". Northern Foods. Retrieved 2008-10-05.  

External links


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