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Your cut-out-and-keep guide to top employers 52. Richmond Foods

In a nutshell: Richmond Foods is a bit of a misleading name, as the company does in effect only manufacture ice cream and lollies. But, as if to compensate for this, it does it on rather a large scale -- it is the UK's largest ice cream manufacturer with an annual turnover of around £127m.

History: Richmond was formed in 1985 when Jonathan Ropner, an enterprising Yorkshire-based farmer bought local bulk own-label ice cream manufacturer Cardosi. Two years later Ropner moved the operation to Leeming Bar, North Yorkshire. Since then the company has grown through acquisition, buying Windsor Creameries in 1995 and merging with the ice lolly manufacturer the Treats Group in 1998. During the past four years it has bought the ice cream companies Allied Frozen Foods, The Ice Creamery, Oldfields, De Roma and the Nestlé UK ice cream business.

Brands you'd recognise: Because Richmond manufactures certain brands under licence there are plenty to choose from here. Most recognisable are its Smarties, Rowntrees Fruit Pastil, Yorkie and Toffee Crisp ice creams and its Ribena Ice, Fab and Zzapp lollies. It also produces the wickedly-named low fat ice creams Skinny Cow.

The strategy: Acquisition and strong investment is a big part of the Richmond ethic, but not the only things the company stands for. The company has "total commitment to product innovation and perfection permeates our whole organisation", it says.

Where you'd work: Richmond currently spreads its 900 staff over five sites, at Leeming Bar, Crossgates in Leeds, Wigan, Bude and Ivybridge in Devon.

Do say at interview: What a good start (for the first time in its history, in 2004 the company achieved profitability in the first half of the year).

Don't say at interview: I'll take Ivybridge please (Richmond has just announced it is likely to close this plant because of high distribution costs).

Contact: 01677 423397,

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