How former Aunt Bessie's owner used sale to benefit business

By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 28 Nov 2018

William Jackson Food Group has followed on from the £210m sale of its famous Aunt Bessie’s brand with the acquisition of another new company.

The Hull business, which sold the Yorkshire Pudding household name in the summer to Birdseye owner Nomad Foods, has bought London-based luxury ingredients company Belazu.

The purchase is William Jackson’s second since the Aunt Bessie’s sale, and its chief executive said it had “helped redefine the group for the next phase of its growth.”

Norman Soutar, chief executive of the William Jackson Food Group, said: “The strategic sale of Aunt Bessie’s has enabled us to redefine the group for the next phase of its growth.

“The Group has been around for 167 years and has changed significantly during that time, and with each change our family shareholders have taken a long-term view to ensure a robust business remains in place for future generations.

Belazu is a premium ingredient supplier of vinegars and oils. (​Belazu)

“We’re a sixth generation family business with 2,000 colleagues in great businesses nationwide and we’re delighted to be welcoming Belazu to the family.

“It’s an incredibly innovative business, and we’ve had our eyes on it for a number of years.”

The sale of Aunt Bessie’s to Nomad Foods was announced in early June.

Read more: Profit dip at Aunt Bessie's but new owner positive over future

Within weeks of the deal, William Jackson Food Group had confirmed the purchase of Lancashire-based ingredients supplier Wellocks.

Wellocks employs almost 500 people, and has a client base which includes some of the country’s top chefs.

Aunt Bessie's, Freightliner Road, west Hull

William Jackson has followed up the deal this week with the acquisition of Belazu.

The London-based supplier is the UK’s top-selling balsamic vinegar and premium olive oil brand.

They also sell culinary paste and preserved lemons via retail channels.

Read more: Bird's Eye boss speaks out on Aunt Bessie's sale and what it means for Hull

In addition to selling into Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Ocado, the international brand operates across premium food service channels with high-quality authentic Mediterranean olives, antipasti, grains, pastes and vinegars.

Adam Wells, managing director of Belazu, said: “This is a really exciting development in our story; we’re thrilled to be joining a food group with such heritage and a long-term view, and which shares our values.

“Crucially it’s business as usual for our colleagues, customers and suppliers with the backing and experience of WJFG.”

Belazu employs around 160 people at its manufacturing facility in Greenford, Middlesex.

The William Jackson Food Group also owns online organic grocery delivery business Abel & Cole, Hull bakery Jacksons, The Food Doctor and MyFresh.

The business has used the sale of Aunt Bessie’s to strive ahead with its expansion plans.

From a small grocers shop in Yorkshire in 1851, William Jackson Food Group is now a sixth-generation family business.

The first bakery opened in 1891 and the current Jackson's bakery on Derringham Street opened in 1907.

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