Vestey Group Ltd

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Vestey Group is a family of food companies. Our core business remains rooted in importing and distributing quality affordable foods. While we are a food business, over time, we have developed a pensions consultancy activity based on the expertise and the excellent work of our in-house team.

The foundations of Vestey Holdings date back to the 1890s when brothers William and Edmund Vestey established the § Union Cold Storage Company in Liverpool. Pioneering and visionary, the entrepreneurial spirit of our forefathers continues to influence the way we run our business today.ref

Vestey Foods is a distributor of food products. It offers beef and lamb meat, frozen food, poultry products, fish and seafoods, ration packs, canned goods, fruits, vegetables, and more.


  •  Donald-Russell-2020.svg
    Donald Russell Ltd, based in Inverurie, Aberdeenshire, supplies hotels and restaurants around the world. It is the largest ‘Direct to Consumer’ meat company in the UK.
  •  Vestey-Wisk.svg
    Wisk Ltd, an international fine foods division, selling high quality food and ingredients to top hotels and restaurants; it has subsidiaries companies in the Philippines, Dubai and Spain.
  •  Vestey-Foods.png
    Vestey Foods sources, imports and distributes.
  •  Cottage-Delight.svg
    Cottage Delight Ltd provides the UK’s farm shops, garden centres and independent retailers with a selection of jams, pickles, biscuits and cakes.
  •  Albion-Fine-Foods.svg
    Albion Fine Foods Ltd delivers ingredients to UK chefs across London and in the south east, supplying dairy, frozen and dry goods, and some quirky specialist items.
  •  Western-Pension-Solutions.png
    Western Pension Solutions Ltd: a pensions consultancy, was created so that other family-owned companies can benefit from strategic advice on how to manage their legacy defined benefit schemes.

Corporate Grouping

  • Lord VesteyWikipedia-W.svg + GMW Vestey + RJH Vestey
    • Western United Investment Company Ltd, reg. 1918, OpenCorporates-sm.svg
      • Thurlow Employment Services Ltd,
      • Vestey Group Ltd, reg. Jul.2002, was Vestey Holdings Ltd, OpenCorporates-sm.svg
        • Vestey Holdings Ltd, reg. 1900, was Vestey Group Ltd; Frederick Leyland & Co. Ltd, OpenCorporates-sm.svg
        • Vestey Brothers Ltd,

  • Donald Russell Ltd, history, OpenCorporates-sm.svg
  • Vestey Foods UK Holdings Ltd, OpenCorporates-sm.svg
    • Vestey Foods UK Ltd, OpenCorporates-sm.svg
  • Vestey Foods International Holdings Ltd, OpenCorporates-sm.svg
    • Vestey Foods International Ltd, OpenCorporates-sm.svg
  • Fine Foods Group Ltd, OpenCorporates-sm.svg
    • Albion Fine Foods Ltd, OpenCorporates-sm.svg
  • Cottage Delight Ltd, OpenCorporates-sm.svg
  • FineFrance Holdings Ltd, OpenCorporates-sm.svg
  • Friendship Foods Ltd, OpenCorporates-sm.svg
  • Global Group UK Holdings Ltd, OpenCorporates-sm.svg
  • Purple FoodService Solutions Ltd, OpenCorporates-sm.svg
  • TecFoods Ltd, OpenCorporates-sm.svg
  • Vestey Foods Ltd, OpenCorporates-sm.svg
  • Vestey Foods France SAS, OpenCorporates-sm.svg
  • VFI Worldwide Ltd, OpenCorporates-sm.svg
  • Western Pension Solutions Ltd, OpenCorporates-sm.svg
  • Wisk Ltd, OpenCorporates-sm.svg
  • Wisk Holdings Ltd, OpenCorporates-sm.svg
  • Wisk Foods Ltd, OpenCorporates-sm.svg
  • ... ... see AR-Dec.2019


ToDo: link, link, link, link, link, link, link, link, link,link, link, ... DDG

  • Jan.2019: Albion Fine Foods Ltd: TecFoods Ltd's Fine Foods business was merged into Albion Fine Foods Ltd.AR-Dec.2019
  • Dec.2016: Cottage Delight, a Somerset-based food manufacturer, was acquired via its subsidiary Fine Foods Group. Cottage Delight started life as a fudge manufacturer.[1]
  • Sept.2007: we brought the thirteen companies into the single identity of Vestey Foods.ref
  • 2005: Nationalisation: Hugo Chávez's Venezuelan Govt expropriated all of the Vestey group's assets and operations in Venezuela. In Apr.2016, the World Bank's International Center for Settlements of Investment Disputes in New York, operating behind closed doors, awarded compensation of $98m.[2] In May.2019, the Venezuelan Govt's appeal was rejected.
  • 2000: the vertically integrated model by which the food business had previously operated had been broken up, leading to farming, cold storage, and food import and distribution operating as stand-alone companies.
  • Apr.1998: Blue Star Line Ltd was sold to P&O Nedlloyd Container Line Ltd (now owned by AP Møller–Mærsk AS).[3]
  • 1996: The remnant Australian estates were sold off.
  • 1995: Union International, the core of Vestey’s Family Empire went into Receivership. All was not lost as Vesty money moved into fruit, becoming, among other things, the biggest importer of bananas.
  • 1991: Tax Evasion/Avoidance: the tax loophole which had enabled the Vestey family to avoid paying more than £88m in tax was finally closed.[4][5]
  • 1984: Vestey sold off five of its seven North Australian ranches. Before the sale, it had been the largest private landowner in Australia. After the sale, it still raised about ten percent of all cattle in the country. By 1992 all the Australian farms had been liquidated.
  • Jul.1981: Channel Tunnel: Edmund Vestey, in his capacity as President of the Council of British Shipping, argued against the Channel Tunnel on the grounds that existing ferry operators adquately covered traffic needs at far less cost than any fixed link.[6]
  • Jul.1981: Union International declared losses of £5.5m - but still managed to pay dividends of £100,000 to the family shareholders.[7]
  • Oct.1980:
    Tax Gift: HM Treasury agreed to a £540,000 capital transfer tax exemption on the Vestey family's purchase of 100,000 acres of land in the Scottish Highlands, in return for agreeing to limitations on the development of the land. Donald DewarWikipedia-W.svg objected strenuously, as the land was acquired for the "sole purpose of surrounding themselves with large areas of emptiness in which they and their friends could dispose privately, chasing the stags over the crags", and that it was unacceptable that private agreement of this kind should be entered into between the Treasury and private owners.[8]
  • Apr.1980: Union Int is selling its 50% stake in Sun Valley, a major poultry producer based in Hereford. Sun Valley has agreed to takeover temrs which will give Gargill-Albion, Cargill's UK arm, 90% of the company. Sun Vallye's 3 execs will retain 10%. Sun Valley was formed in 1960 by Colonels Uvedale Corbe? and EC Phillips. Union Int bought its stake in 1963.[9]

See also link, link, link, link, link, link, link, link, link

  • Nov.1976: Travel Agents: Blue Star Leisure made an offer for 34 travel agents from the troubled British & Commonwealth Shipping Company, planning to add them to the 7 it already owns as part of an expansion into the holiday trade.[10]
  • 1976: Vestey bought two ships from the crisis-ridden Maritime Fruit Carriers group, owned by Bermuda-registered Sea Containers Ltd.[11]
  • Nov.1974: Caravel Holidays Package Tours: the collapse of Horizon Holidays left a gap in the market, which the Vesteys moved to fill. Caravel Holidays offered holidays via scheduled airlines in top grade hotels in Spain, Portugal, the Atlantic Isles, Mexico and South America.[12]
  • Jan.1973: South American shipping trade: the Port of London Authority, together with 500 dockers in the Royal Group of Docks, won a fight to keep the trade, which shipowners had threatened to move to Southampton, as "London is too inefficient and too expensive".[13] Blue Star Line, the Royal Mail, Houlder Line and ELMA (Empresa Líneas Marítimas Argentinas) squeezed major concessions out of the situation.[14]

The Port of London Authority at the time owned and operated many of the docks and wharfs in the Port of London, but they have all now been either closed or privatised.

  • Nov.1972: Poultry Enterprises, t/a "Country Stile", a broiler-growing and processing joint venture between the Vesteys and Unilever Ltd, was sold to Ross Poultry, a subsidiary of Imperial Foods.[15]
  • Sept.1972: Shipping Competition: the advent of specialised bulk-carriers, cheaper to build and operate than custom-bult container ships, led to substantially lower rates. The regular shipping lines were used to making an annual rate increase but, faced with the cut-throat competition, were instead forced into offering decreases.[16]
  • Aug.1972: the Vestey family closed down some of their dock areas, developing them as property investments, causing job losses.[17][18]
  • 1972: Trade Union Conflict: the Transport & General Workers' Union and Midland Cold Storage engaged in a huge fight over workers' rights, when Midland Cold Storage refused to hire only registered dockers, ie. those which belonged to the union.[19][20]

Aldington-Jones committee

  • Dec.1971: Blue Star line withdrew its last three passenger ships from the once-important South American trade. Royal Mail Lines withdrew their passengers ships in 1969; and Cunard announced the sale of two cruise liners.[21]
  • Nov.1968: Aboriginal Rights: in 1966, 200 aborigines in the Northern Territory created a settlement on territory owned by Vesteys, ~100 miles south of Darwin, and battled for the right to live there. Vesteys controlled 32,000 square miles leased from the govt. The aborigines petitioned the govt, claiming the village is built on trival lands, but their plea was turned down.[22]
  • Oct.1968: Brazil issued decrees declaring existing agreements void, and forbidding foreign shipping to load three of Brazil's key export cargoes without express permission. European lines dismissed Brazil's allegations that they had failed to observe Brazilian laws as "gross exaggeration".[23]
  • Australia Container Service (ACS), a giant consortium formed by British and European lines in the Australian container ship trade was formed, after ~2 years of negotiations. Former rivals, the 13 lines represent the entire liner interest of Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and Australia. Monopoly will be prevented by the presence of 3 Scandinavian lines, and the Russians. Britain: P&O Ocean Steam; Furness Withy; British & Commonwealth (Overseaas Containers); Cunard; Vestey; Ellerman (Associated Container). Germany: Hamburg America Line; North-German Lloyd. Australia: Australian National Line. France: Messageries Maritimes. Netherlands: Vereenigde Nederlansche Scheepvaart. Italy: Lloyd Triestino.[24]
  • 1968: Cunard is planning a major expansion in container ship operatations to provide an integrated round-the-world container ship service by the early 1970s. ACT = Cundar + Ellerman + Blue Star Lines, further strengthened by Australian Govt participation. ACT and OCL will become nearly equal in size.[25]
  • 1966: Associated Container Transportation (ACT) was formed by a consortium of liner shipping firms: Cunard, Ellerman, Vestey, Harrison and Thomson. To investigate and promote container traffic on international routes. The new company is similar to Overseas Containers Ltd (OCL), formed 4 months ago by four others groups: P&O British & Commonwealth, Alfred Holt, and Furness Withy.The two consortia contain practically the whole of Britain's deep sea liner fleet, which is thus split into two rival camps.[26]
  • Oct.1970: Lyons has extended its interests in the frozen food industry by buying Union International's 37.5% shareholding in Glacier Foods. ... and 25% holding in Findus (UK). Union Int had joined Lyons and Nestle in the merger of their UK ice-cream and frozen food interests in two separate deals in 1963 and 1967. The former set up Glacier foods in ice-cream; the latter merged the Nestle frozen food company, Findus, with the Lyons-Union company, Fropax.

As a result, Lyons will own 85% of the ice-cream company, and Nestle 15%. As a result, Lyons and Nestle will each hold 50% of Findus.[27]

  • 1964: what's this about? "Frozen Food Board": The merging of the frozen food interests of Union International (Fropax), J Lyons & Company (Frood), and Associated Fisheries (Eskimo) has led to E Vestey being appointed chairman....ref In the ice-cream trade, Lyons were already linked with Union International through Glacier Foods, which incororates Lyons Maid, Eldorado, and Neilson's, acquired from Mr Garfield Weston's Associated British Foods last October.[28]
  • Feb.1963: x: Union International Co. and J Lyons & Company, who recently merged their ice-cream interest, agreed in principle to merge their frozen food interests. These are operated by Union International's subsidiary Fropax Ltd, and J Lyons & Co.'s Food Division. The new company will be a subsidiary of Union International.

[29] Glacier Foods = holdco for the joint ice-cream interests, which will remain a Lyons subsidiary.

  • 1946: Booth Steamship Company: Alfred Booth & Company sold the business to the Vestey group. In 1955, Booth Steamship Co started trading in the Caribbean with a service between Brazil and Canada via the West Indies.ref Between the 1940s-1960s, Vestey transferred numerous ships between Booth, Lamport & Holt and Blue Star.ref In 1975, Vestey absorbed the two fleets into Blue Star Line.ref see WP:Alfred Booth and Company,, for flag logopic.
  • 1944: Lamport & Holt was purchased from the Royal Mail Lines. In 1991, the operations were hived up into the Blue Star Line.
  • Mar.1935: the Argentina Senate's Meat Trade Investigating Committee, convened to investigate monopolistic practices of those engaged in the meat business, fined the Anglo Packing Company for violations of the meat industry control laws.[30] The Vesteys had refused to produce their books, saying they had been sent abroad;[31] however, a raid found them in crates marked as corned beef.[32]
  • May.1929: Edmund Vestey and William Haldane engaged in an 'argument'. Haldane proposed that British farmers should increase the number of cattle raised, as the USA's appetite for Argentinian beef would corner the market. Edmund Vestey defended his vested interests retaliated, arguing that Argentina was so superior to England for cattle raising, that it could produce a virtually unlimited supply.[33]
  • Feb.1927:

  • Jan.1927: Meat Wars: the three biggest combatants arrived at a settlement as to the percentages of the trade which, as importers, they are to take. Armour & Company Ltd, Vestey Brothers Ltd, Swift & Company Ltd. The Smithfield & Argentine Meat Company, together with several smaller firms, was still holding out for a bigger percentage.[34]
  • 1925: Frigorifico Anglo Sud Americano, a freezing business in Buenos Aires, Argentina, was sold to the River Plate British & Continental Meat Company, which was formed to take over the business. In 1928, Armour & Company took over the River Plate operations.[35]
  • Jan.1925: Intricate Bookkeeping: the Daily Herald attacked the 'Vestey meat combine', quoting Duncan CarmichaelWikipedia-W.svg as saying that the difficulty in the way of complete exposure of the Vestey operations is found in the intricate system of bookkeepiing employed by the Vesteys, which makes it practically impossible to trace the transactions between Vestey and the buyers of Argentine cattle all the way through to the rancher who raises the cattle.[36]
  • 1925: Royal Commission on Food Prices, convened to bury the issue investigate profiteering in the sale of food, called on the Vesteys to justify themselves. The Vesteys pleaded "ruinous conditions"; that profit was between ¼d-½d per lb, and was solely dependent on enormous volume. Only part of the evidence was made public.[37] George LansburyWikipedia-W.svg, a promoter of social justice, condemned both the Commission and the Vesteys. The Commission was composed solely of those with vested interests; the Vesteys had their "knuckles gently wrapped, but that was only for public consumption. When they came back to give evidence that they would not give on the first occasion the door was shut. We do not know what they said. All we know is that it was private."[38]
  • Apr.1924: Wage Conflict: London cold storage workers threatened to strike in support of their claim that wages fixed by the Shaw agreement should be paid.[39]


Oxoid had moved to its own facilities in Basingstoke. Oxoid was purchased by Unilever and joined their Medical Products group as Unipath. In 1997, Oxoid became independent through management buy-out and in 2000, PPMVentures, a subsidiary of Prudential Plc, bought a majority stake. In 2004, Oxoid Ltd was purchased by Fisher Scientific with the Oxoid board of directors sharing £30 million in cash and company shares. Following the merger of Fisher Scientific with Thermo Electron Corporation in November 2006, Oxoid Ltd (along with Remel Inc) became the Microbiology Division of Thermo Fisher Scientific.

  • Aug.2013: Campbell Soup Company sold its European simple meals business to private equity firm CVC Capital Partners.ref CVC will acquire Campbell’s national brands of soups, sauces and simple meals, including Liebig and Royco in France, Erasco in Germany, Blå Band in Sweden and Devos Lemmens and Royco in Belgium. The transaction also includes four plants in Puurs, Belgium; Le Pontet, France; Lubeck, Germany; and Karpalund,


  • Nov.2011: Baxters Food Group bought the Fray Bentos business and brand from Princes.ref,[1] Manufacturing of Fray Bentos products will transfer over the next 12 months from Long Sutton in East Anglia to Baxters' production facility in Fochabers.ref Princes sold the Fray Bentos business to satisfy UK competition authorities’ concerns over the purchase of Premier Foods’ canned food business in Feb.2011.ref,[2]
  • Jul.2011: Princes Ltd, owned by the Mitsubishi Corporation, bought Premier Foods Group Ltd's canned food business, including the Fray Bentos, Crosse & Blackwell, and Farrows businesses and brands; and two canning plants based in Long Sutton and Wisbech. Branston baked beans and Batchelors canned soups will remain under Premier Foods’ ownership but will be licensed to Princes on a long-term arrangement at the sites for use on baked beans and pasta in cans, and the Batchelors brand on vegetables, wet soups and pasta in cans, and a short-term licence to use Hartley’s on canned fruit.ref,ref,[3] The Fray Bentos brand, business and certain manufacturing assets will be sold by Princes following the acquisition as part of undertakings made by the company to the Office of Fair Trading.ref
  • 2008: Campbell Completes Sale of Generale Condimentaire Condiment Business in France to Lesieur,
  • 2006: Campbells Soup sold the Fray Bentos UK operations to Premier Foods. Premier Foods closed the King's Lynn factory in 2007, and moved its Fray Bentos production to its factory in Long Sutton, Lincolnshire.ref,ref However, Campbell's continued to manufacture and sell steak and kidney pies in Australia under the Fray Bentos brand name.ref
  • Jan.2001: Campbell Soup Company has completed the purchase of several market-leading soup and sauce businesses in Europe from Unilever. The businesses, with combined annual sales of approximately $400 million, include three instant dry soup brands – “Batchelors” in the United Kingdom, “Royco” in France and Belgium, and “Heisse Tasse” in Germany – and “Oxo” bouillon cubes in the United Kingdom.ref
  • Vlasic:
  • More:
  • Oct.1997: Campbell Soup Company purchased Liebig, France's best-selling liquid soup, from Danone SA, which is shedding its least profitable products.[41] Danone also sold its sauces, pasta, and read-prepared food businesses to three investment banks, Paribas Affaires Industrielles, Lazard Freres & Company, and Finance Investors.
  • 1996: Campbell acquired “Erasco,” the leading wet soup in Germany. (+ Heisse Tasse)
  • 1995: Campbell acquired “Homepride,” the leading cooking sauce in the UK. Since acquisition, all three businesses have increased their market shares and delivered consistent sales growth.

  • Apr.1968: Brooke, Bond & Company Ltd bought Liebig's from the Vestey Group.[42][43]
  • 1960s: Vestey Group sold the Anglo factory to the Uruguayan govt,[44] which closed it down in 1979.[45]
  • 1924: The Liebig Extract of Meat Company, a German-British firm, was acquired, and its Fray Bentos Uruguay factory was renamed as "Frigorífico Anglo del Uruguay".[44] Liebig's assets included 2-3+ million hectares of farm land and cattle herds in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Rhodesia, Kenya and South Africa.

  • Jul.1923: Stock Exchange Flotation: prior to share subscriptions being offered, the Union Cold Storage Company Ltd acquired from the Western United Investment Company Ltd the following companies: British & Argentine Meat Company Ltd; Eastmans Ltd; Proprietors of Fletchers (Meat Importers) Ltd; Argenta Meat company Ltd; British Beef Company Ltd; North Australian Meat Company Ltd; Lonsdale & Thompson Ltd; John Layton & Company Ltd; Donald Cook & Son Ltd (Cook's Farm Eggs). The purchase brought control of ~2,400 retail shops, depots and markets stalls, together with factories and wholesalers.[46]
  • 1923: Union Cold Storage spent £4 million to acquire the subsidiaries of the Western United Investment Company in 1923. This included the British Argentine Meat Company, James Nelson & Sons and Fletcher’s butcher’s shops.
  • Dec.1918: Darwin Rebellion: ~1,000 demonstrators marched in protest against Vestey's Meatworks and the Commonwealth of Australia, after the White Australia policyWikipedia-W.svg was implemented. The Vesteys responded by closing down their Darwin operations in 1920. See Darwin rebellionWikipedia-W.svg.
  • 1919? Tax Evasion/Avoidance: the Vestey family set up an elaborate tax avoidance scheme centred on a Paris trust that enabled it to legally avoid UK tax until the loophole was closed in 1991, and which was the bane of Inland Revenue investigators for 60+ years.[47]
  • 1917: Vestey's Meatworks began operation in Darwin. After spending £90,000, the plant operated for 3 years at a heavy loss.[48]

Edward A Foley, (1930). Vestey interests: companies included in the Vestey Interests or Vestey Group. OCLC 71099995

  • 1915: Tax Evasion/Avoidance: Edmund and William Vestey wrote to Prime Minister David Lloyd George, demanding that they be exempted from income tax.[49] King George V was so appalled by this behaviour, in the darkest days of the first World War, that he opposed William becoming a baron - as did many peers,[50] but William handed over £20,000 to Lloyd George and got the title anyway.[51]
  • 1914-1916: The Insanity of the Meat Industry: the Vesteys acquired 27,670 square miles of the Northern Territory, increasing their holdings to 30,750 square miles. They had another 8,000 square miles in Western Australia, and some Queensland properties. Cattle had to trek hundreds of miles to Queensland, where it took a year to replace the weight they lost on the way across. Rainfall was unreliable, and the land highly erodable - but beef farmers pressed ahead anyway. The Vesteys were, inter alia, accused of denuding the land of vegetation, allowing the destruction of native pastures, and the continued erosion of northern watersheds.[52]
  • 1914: Tax Evasion/Avoidance: during WWI, the Govt increased income tax to support the unprecedented levels of wartime expenditure,[53] at which point the Vesteys relocated to Argentina, with the consequent loss of ~4,000 jobs.[49] The Govt said "You must pay a little extra if these men are going out to fight to save your bodies and your profits". "What did this gentleman do? He just cleared out of England. He is quite honest and quite frank about it. This is what he says. "Prior to 1915 your head offices were in this country and the control was exercised from here?" "Yes." "In consequence of taxation you have moved the control to South America?" "Yes, to Buenos Aires. There is no tax in Buenos Aires at all."[38]
  • 1923: Frigorifice Anglo-Sud-Americano, a meat-packing establishment in Buenos Aires, was purchased by the Argentinian Govt.[54]
  • 1920s-: the business in the UK also acquired or established a network of wholesale and retail outlets. In the heyday of the butcher shop, the business owned some 2,500 retail outlets.
  • 1915: Vestey Brothers Ltd was formed.OpenCorporates-sm.svg
  • WWI: Six million acres of land in the Australian interior were acquired.
  • 1914: Blackfriars Export Co was acquired.
  • 1914: Aboriginal Rights: the Vesteys refused to pay their aboriginal workers in wages, instead using goods such as tea and tobacco, which was legally permissible at the time. This practice led to long-term friction, which continued until the 8-year long Wave Hill strike in 1967.
  • 1913-1920: the brothers acquired pastoral land and freezing works in Venezuela, Australia and Brazil, and additional freezing works in New Zealand, Argentina and Madagascar in order to supply the British market with beef.
  • 1911: Meat Industry: the brothers expanded into meat production, processing and distribution, with pastoral land and meatworks in Venezuela, Australia and Brazil, plus additional meatworks in New Zealand and Argentina. They also acquired market-stalls on the Smithfield Market and butcher shops throughout the UK, with ~3,000 Dewhurst outlets by 1923.
  • Jul.1911:
    Blue Star Line Ltd: the brothers bought an old refrigerated ship from New Zealand. The ship was the first of a fleet that grew to 12 dedicated ships by WWI, with all their names starting with Brod after Evelene BrodstoneWikipedia-W.svg. Blue Star went on to become one of the largest and best known refrigerated shipping lines in the world.[55]
  • 1906: Uncertainty as to the sailing regularity of steamship lines to Europe, the brothers acquired one or two ships, and converted them into refrigerated steamers, to ship eggs, chickens and other products from China to Great Britain.[56][57]
  • 1905: Eggs: the brothers set up an egg processing plant in Hankin, China, the first of five such plants, which became a principal source of supply of powdered eggs to the bakery trades in the UK, USA and continental Europe over a period of ~50 years.[56]
  • 1897: The Union Cold Storage Company Ltd was established when William and Edmund identified the need for sourcing large quantities of quality, affordable food from overseas to feed the rapidly-growing British population at the start of the Industrial Revolution. Cold stores were developed across the UK, Russia, the Baltics, and Western Europe.
  • 1876: Samuel Vestey, a wholesale and provision merchant in Liverpool, sent his sons William and Edmund to Chicago to source meat and dairy products for his business.[57][57]
Additional Sources: Vestey Group History. Vestey Foods. Accessed Aug.2020. ♦ [ Building on a pioneering and visionary history.] Vestey Holdings. Accessed Aug.2020.

  • Commercial Properties, the construction arm.

Western United Investment Company Ltd

  • ?date?: Western United became the parent company of the Union Cold Storage Company Ltd.
  • Aug.1918: The Western United Investment Company LtdOpenCorporates-sm.svg was formed to provide annuities for employees who had been with the company for 15+ years, and then for the benefit of their families.[37]

Vestey Foods International

Vestey Foods, vesteyfoods.comArchive-org-sm.svg

ToDo: link,

Donald Russell

Classic Fine Foods

Agropecuaria Flora

Union International Company

  • 1995: Union International went into receivership.ref
  • Jan.1976: Downsway Supermarkets Ltd: 47 of the 80 outlets of the East Anglia-based chain were sold to Fine Fare Ltd. Some of the unsold stores were turned into freezer food centres.ref
  • Mar.1995: Union International, having failed to be turned around, went into receivership.[58]
  • mid-1990s: Union International's monopoly of the refrigerated transport business was being challenged by the rise of the supermarkets, which had their own wholesaling operations and specialist butchering counters. This meant that the meat trade was no longer the cash cow it had been in the middle of the century. In the mid-to-late '90s, the Vesteys fought a rearguard action, putting personal money into the business and seeking to salvage their fortune from the banks. In 1995 they gave up the fight, and Union International was put into administrative receivership, effectively relinquishing family control of those assets.[51]
  • 1980s: Debt: Union International made a series of disastrous property investments in the UK and Australia, just as the property market was about to collapse, leading to massive debt.[58] The banks - a consortium of 70, led by Lloyds - called a spending halt and demanded cutbacks and economies.[51]
  • Jul.1949: Union International Company: Union Cold Storage Company Ltd changed its name, as part of a segregation scheme designed to protect shareholders in the event of proposals by Clement Attlee's govt to nationalise the cold storage and wholesale meat importing and distribution businesses being carried out.[59]

Union Cold Storage Company Ltd

  • 1977: Union owned Dewhurst, British Beef, and Union Cold Storage.ref
  • Jan.1934: The W Angliss & Company Ltd, the largest meat business in Australia, was acquired by the Weddel Company, controlled by Union Cold Storage Company Ltd, from William Charles AnglissWikipedia-W.svg. Angliss exported beef, mutton, lamb, butter, rabbits and other refrigerated products from Australia.[60]
  • In 1958 chicken processing became important to Maunders, and in January 2008 this was sold to 2 Sisters Food Group, but they retained ‘View Site‘, a chain of shops in the West Country.
    • 1879: FJP Maunder started a meat processing business at Witheridge, Devon, opening butchers shops in 1886. Were one of the first suppliers to Sainsburys.
  • 1949: ‘Union Cold Storage Co Ltd’, changed its name to ‘Union International Co Ltd’, but kept the old name for the cold storage element of the business (The Times 21 July 1949, 8).
  • ?date?: A few years later they absorbed the Empire Meat Co. Others were R.C. Hammett (London) and Roberts in South Wales.
  • 1923: Acquisitions: W. & R. Fletcher Ltd., the Argenta Meat Co. Ltd., and J. H. Dewhurst.
  • 1923: British & Argentine Meat Company LtdOpenCorporates-sm.svg was acquired. The business had been formed in Mar.1914 through an amalgamation of two other chains of butchers’ shops: James Nelson & Sons Ltd (1,000 shops) and George Drabble's River Plate Meat Company (440 shops).
    • Drabble's company had 440 butchers shops and joined James Nelson Ltd., to form British & Argentine Meat Co in 1914. This was acquired by Vestey in 1923 to go with his other companies including, W.&R.Fletcher, Argentine Meat Company, Eastmans Dewhurst and later The Empire Meat Co. (2)
  • Oct.1921: British & Argentine Meat Company was acquired.ref
  • 1923: Union Cold Storage had 51 cold stores and freezing works at home and abroad, and a large fleet of refrigerated vessels. Beef was imported from Argentina and lamb from New Zealand; Australia was another important market.
  • Dec.15.1917: the Union Cold Storage Company sold the Blue Star Line of refrigerated steamers to ??[37]
  • 1913: Union Cold Storage Company Ltd... todo.
  • ?date?: nion Cold Storage Company Ltd: the company's name was changed.
  • 1897: Union Cold Storage & Ice Company was formed in Liverpool.[61]
  • Origins: by the early years of the 20th century, the Vespey brothers had established cold storage businesses in Liverpool, Manchester, London and Hull, and even in pre-revolutionary Russia. Union International had been born and was soon importing eggs from China and meat from New Zealand, Venezuela and Brazil.[51]

Dewhurst the Butchers, Butchery historian JH Dewhurst Ltd,OpenCorporates-sm.svg operated as a subsidiary of Union International. Profits and consequently the number of outlets declined steadily throughout the 1980s and the first half of the 1990s, when Britain was hit by recession. Like so many other meat multiples, it vanished from the British shopping scene, bowing to the superior might of the supermarkets.ref

  • Jan.2008: Lloyd Maunder Ltd's poultry arm, based at Willand in mid-Devon, was sold to 2 Sisters Food Group Ltd; the chain of 15 butchers shops in Devon and Cornwall, and the Willand land assets were not included in the deal.[62]

  • 2011: The Dewhurst brand was sold, along with many others, to a company called Brand Collar. A sad end.
  • Mar.2008: Dewhurst went into administration, with Lloyd Maunder blaming rises in rent and energy costs.[63]
  • Mar.2006: Administration: 60 outlets were closed, and the administrators called in to help sell the remaining 35 stores.[64]
  • 2005: A year later Dewhurst closed 60 shops and called in the administrators to help sell the remaining 35.
  • Mar.2005:
    Lloyd Maunder Ltd, a West Country butcher, bought the Dewhurst 109-store chain from its private equity owners.[65]
  •  ??.2005: An deal with Asda Property Holdings rescued 213 shops; Asda bought the freeholds and leased the shops back to the business.
  • early.2005: Lloyd Maunder Ltd, a West Country butchers chain, bought control of Dewhurst Butchers Ltd from its private equity owners, who had financed the MBO which had purchased the business in 1995 from the receivers of the Vestey Group.

  • Aug.1995: Dewhurst Butchers Ltd,OpenCorporates-sm.svg a new company, was formed to buy the business of JH Dewhurst Ltd from the receivers.
  • Mar.1995: Dewhurst had just 360 stores when the company went into receivership with debts of ~£100m, along with its holdco, Union International.[58]
  • 1992: Vestey announced the closure of 600 of its 1,000 Dewhurst butchers shops. The chain had been adversely affected by the growth of the supermarkets.
  • late 1980s: Matthews butchers was acquired by Dewhurst.
  • 1984: West Gunner Ltd,OpenCorporates-sm.svg a chain of 104 shops, was purchased from Fitch Lovell plc. In 1903, Robert Gunner had a provisions shop selling cheese & ham in Islington. During WWI, anti-German feeling led to the closing of German butcher's shops, which Gunner bought. By the 1960s, there were 118 Gunners shops being run by Joseph Richards (Robert died in 1947). Joseph Richards was getting older, and approached Fitch Lovell, who purchased Gunner and merged it with their West Layton group, naming it "West Gunner". Dewhurst struggled on untill 1994 when they disbanded.[66]
  • Oct.1980: Wages: the Vestey family refused to give the shop staff a wage increase, after Dewhurst's profits rose by 78% - on which £10 tax was paid; plus the family had avoided paying tax on £2.6m income from an overseas trust.[67]
  • Oct.1980: Freezer Fare: 66 stores were sold to Cordon Bleu Freezer-Food Centres Ltd, a subsidiary of Argyll Foods Ltd.[68]
  • 1980: Dewhurst The Master Butcher: the business was rebranded.
  • 1977: the number of Dewhurst shops in the UK had increased to reach 1,400.
  • Mar.1919: JH Dewhurst Ltd was incoprorated. OpenCorporates-sm.svg
  • 1902: converted into a private limited company
  • 1898: John Dewhurst & Son Sheffield Ltd: Thomas James Robinson of Royds Foundry, Attercliffe, petitioned to wind up John Dewhurst & Son.[69] John Henry Dewhurst and George Longden had been trading as John Dewhurst & Son.[70]
  • 1892: the business was converted into a private limited company. John Dewhurst died this year.
  • 1891: John Dewhurst & Son: John Henry Dewhurst joined his father in partnership.
  • 1873: John Dewhurst, a master butcher, established his business in Southport, Lancashire, employing a man and two boys.[71]

The Vesteys began a retail meat business which, by the early 1990s, had become the UK's largest butchering chain, JH Dewhurst, with 300+ branches up and down the country.[51]

Eastmans Ltd

  • Aug.1920: Union Cold Storage Company bought Eastmans, while it was still recovering from the WWI shock.
  • Aug.1920: § Eastmans Ltd, which had been disastrously hit by WWI, was acquired by dint of an exchange of shares in the Union Cold Storage Company.[72]
  • 1903: Eastmans Ltd had 205 retail shops and cold stores capable of holding 310,000 carcasses of mutton; by 1912 the number of shops had risen to 1,400.
  • 1914-1917: WWI was disastrous for Eastmans, which had to close 495 shops owing to shortage of men and meat. Most of their employees joined the forces, supplies were disrupted, and turnover was greatly reduced.
  • 1912: Eastmans Ltd had 1,400 retail shops, and cold stores capable of holding 310,000 carcasses of mutton.
  • 1900: Eastmans Ltd (USA) was liquidated, as the growing markets in Argentina and Australia for beef, and New Zealand for lamb, resulted in America becoming less competitive. Eastmans then forwards relied on English wholesalers.
  • 1890: John Bell & Sons joined Eastman to form Eastmans, by now selling frozen meat.
  • Jun.1889: Eastmans Ltd was incorporated to hold Timothy and Joseph Eastmans’ company. OpenCorporates-sm.svg
  • 1889: The American Fresh Meat Company and Hill & Dale Ltd: The Bell brothers had built up a chain of 330 butcher's shops, spearheading the sale of imported meat within Britain. Unusually, these shops did not have their own slaughter houses, as everything was brought in from wholesalers.
  • 1877: John Bell & Sons of Glasgow, a butchers established in 1827, became the Scottish agents for Timothy Eastman. Bell & Sons had earlier exported live cattle across the Atlantic, but now moved into frozen meat.
  • 1875: Timothy C Eastman, a leading shipper with a huge abattoir in New York, started exporting large quantities of meat to the UK.
  • 1860s: Meat imports from North America to Britain started, accelerating in the 1870s as refrigeration improved.


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