Timeline tracks trend for UK food brands sold overseas

By Laurence Gibbons

- Last updated on GMT

GlaxoSmithKline's sale of its drinks brands was the latest in a long line of UK brands that have fallen into foreign hands
GlaxoSmithKline's sale of its drinks brands was the latest in a long line of UK brands that have fallen into foreign hands
GlaxoSmithKline’s sale of Lucozade and Ribena for £1.35bn earlier this month was the latest in a long line of iconic British brand sales topped by Cadbury.

That’s the view of Julian Wild, partner at law firm Rollits, who commented on our acquisitions timeline below.

Wild said the £12bn sale of Cadbury to Kraft Foods in 2010 was the most significant brand sale over the last decade because it involved an iconic British brand falling into the hands of an American company.

He also said it marked a growing trend for British brands being sold to overseas companies.

‘Massive change’

“It was a massive change and a hotly contested one by the ​[Cadbury] family – it felt like the end of an era and it really was.

“Not only was it significant because Cadbury was an iconic British brand​ [being sold], but because it was bought by ​[American firm] Kraft.”

Before the sale, Cadbury urged its shareholders to reject a “wholly inadequate”​ Kraft bid.

When Kraft acquired Cadbury it pledged to avoid closing plants or making compulsory redundancies in the UK for two years. However it has since closed Cadbury’s Somerdale plant​ and axed 200 jobs​ from facilities in Bournville, Birmingham, Chirk, and Marlbrook in Herefordshire.

Wild also highlighted the sale of Weetabix to China’s state-owned Bright Foods last year for £1.2bn and debt-laden Premier Foods “less significant”​ off-loading of its UK brands to foreign businesses as a sign of the trend.

To get the full lowdown on the deals mentioned above, as well as the other key acquisitions of British brands over the last five years, click on our interactive timeline below. Click on the crosses or use the navigation bar on the left-hand side to zoom in and learn about the acquisitions.

Click on the pictures on the timeline for the full information on the acquisition and links to the original article.

Find out which British brands Wild thought could be snapped up by foreign buyers next, here​.

Meanwhile, acquisitions and mergers will be one of the topics under discussion at Food Manufacture's​ Business' Leaders Forum, to be staged in London on January 21 2014. The free morning forum is open to senior executives in food and drink manufacturing businesses.

If you would like to attend please contact Rick Pendrous, editor Food Manufacture​, at rick.pendrous@wrbm.com​.

Related topics: Drinks, Confectionery

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