ABF-Jordans tuck into growth
Associated British Foods (ABF) plans to enable a major international sales expansion for crunchy cereal pioneer, Jordans, following the Bedfordshire firm’s merger with crispbread and snacks subsidiary, Ryvita.
The deal is a grand ending to a story which was started in 1855 at Holme flour mill in Biggleswade by the Jordans and subsequently handled by six generations of William Jordans before being accelerated over the last four decades by brothers Bill and David Jordan. They formed W Jordan & Son (Silo) Ltd in 1972 to exploit a wholegrain cereal market that did not exist in the UK at the time and are expected to remain fully involved in the enlarged business. The merger gives international food, ingredients and retail group, ABF whose revenues for 2007 exceeded £6.8bn, a majority share of 62 per cent in the combined business – the balance held by the current Jordans shareholders – allowing it the opportunity to push the Jordans range of breakfast cereals, cereal bars, muesli and oat porridge to a wider global audience. Complementary manufacturing technologies currently used by each business are also expected to provide new product opportunities, with an increased scale enabling a greater impact in all sales channels, particularly in convenience and impulse. “From being a small producer promoting whole grains, to what was then a niche group of consumers, Jordans has now reached the point where the benefit of wholegrain cereal is understood by a mainstream, and international, market,” said Bill Jordan. “Both David and I believe passionately in making good quality wholegrain cereal to promote the health of our customers and protect the countryside. Jordans and Ryvita have built strong reputations for milling wholegrain cereals and it seems very natural to us that we should form a partnership that draws on these links. “This new partnership gives us scale and the ability to share our beliefs, in the benefits of natural foods and protecting the countryside, with even more people.” ABF head of external affairs, Geoff Lancaster, believes faster overseas expansion of the Jordans brand will be achieved using ABF’s international grocery presence. “Overseas expansion is an important factor for Jordans, which is in 17 countries at the moment. We are considerably wider than that with strengths in Asia, Australia, and North America.” ABF first acquired a 20 per cent shareholding in in September 2007, for an amount believed to be around £15 million. Still headquartered in Biggleswade, Jordans employs around 400 staff and has three manufacturing sites which produced unaudited sales of £85m for the year ended 29 February 2008 and unaudited gross assets of £42m at 29 February 2008. Ryvita has an 80 year heritage and has become a byword for crispbread. It is committed to promoting healthy eating and provides a range of healthy snacks utilising wholegrain cereals, which are low in fat and calories. It has successfully extended its brand with the development of a range of healthy snacks including Minis and cereal Goodness bars. It has manufacturing sites in Poole, Dorset and Stockport, Greater Manchester. ABF says the combination of Jordans with Ryvita will create a leading position for the supply of products to meet the increasing consumer demand for natural ingredients and healthy eating while some cost savings will be achieved and both brands will be developed. “I am delighted that the relationship built with the Jordan family over the last year has enabled the merging of these two fine businesses,” said ABF chief executive, George Weston. “We are creating a strong new business and I look forward to the further development of both the Jordans and Ryvita brands.”