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Creating value together

Our way of operating – entrepreneurial but also financially prudent and focused on the long term – has achieved growth over many years and creates long-term value for our shareholders and other stakeholders alike.

We operate a devolved operating model across our five business segments of Grocery, Sugar, Agriculture, Ingredients and Retail and believe the best way to create enduring value involves setting objectives from the bottom up rather than the top down. We make operational decisions locally, because in our experience decisions are most successful when made and owned by the people with the best understanding of their customers and markets. This accountability is highly motivating for our strong local management teams, encouraging an entrepreneurial approach that drives innovative business thinking.

The same is true of our ESG agenda, which is shaped by the leaders within each business who are closest to the opportunities and risks and who benefit from detailed local knowledge, customer insights, and clear ownership of actions. It means ESG factors are not only taken into account within business strategy, they are put into effect by people at every level of the Company who are trusted and empowered to exercise good judgement.

The Group, or corporate centre, provides a framework for sharing of ideas and best practice. The Group is in constant dialogue with the people who run our businesses, giving our corporate leaders a comprehensive overview of their material opportunities and risks and enabling collaboration, where appropriate. Because the centre is small and uses short lines of communication, we can also ensure prompt and unambiguous decision-making.

The chart above shows how our business model works, from the discussion and scrutiny of each business by the Group leadership team to oversight by the Board through our structured governance framework.

We take a long-term view to create long-term value for our shareholders, business partners, employees and the communities in which we operate. Our strategy is to achieve sustainable growth over the long term and the Group balance sheet is managed to ensure long-term financial stability, regardless of the state of the capital markets. We are committed to increasing shareholder value through sound commercial and responsible business decisions that deliver steady growth in earnings and dividends. 

Our ownership structure provides us with the stability to invest in businesses that we believe in and to support the growth of those businesses over the long term. Our growth has been mostly organic, achieved through investment in marketing, development of existing and new products and technologies, and through targeted capital expenditure to improve efficiency and expand capacity. Acquisitions are carefully selected to complement existing business activities and exploit opportunities in adjacent markets or geographies.

Our long-established, disciplined  approach to capital investment underpins our growth. We manage our balance sheet to provide the headroom necessary to fund long-term investment and we make funding available to all our businesses, providing analysis of their investment proposals proves sound and the financial returns meet or exceed a set of clearly defined criteria. We believe that this approach, coupled with a rigorous commitment to ethical conduct and sustainable business practice, is the best way to create enduring value for all our stakeholders.

The Group’s majority shareholder is Wittington Investments Limited, a privately owned company which in turn is majority owned by the Garfield Weston Foundation. The Foundation is one of the UK’s leading grant-making charitable institutions and is mainly funded by the dividends from Associated British Foods. The returns we generate therefore matter not only for shareholders, but also to many charities. In its last financial year to 5 April 2022, the Foundation donated £90m to around 2,000 charities across the UK and in the 64 years since the Foundation was created it has disbursed more than £1.4bn in grants.

 

We understand the value of good people, strong and accountable teams, the power of brands, the need for continuous investment and the need to maintain strong and enduring relationships with customers and suppliers.

Across all our businesses, we live and breathe our values through the work we do every day, from investing in the health and safety of our colleagues, to promoting diversity and respecting human rights. Our values are: respecting everyone’s dignity; acting with integrity; progressing through collaboration; and delivering with rigour. 

We pride ourselves on being a first-class employer, working actively to develop our people and create opportunities for  progression. As a result, our employees tend to stay with us for a long time, building exciting careers that help them fulfil their goals at work, at home and in the community.

We believe that most people are inherently good and that with encouragement, engagement and support they will do the right thing in the right way. Our high standards of integrity enable us to drive a strong culture, recognising that acting responsibly is the only way to build and manage a business over the long term.


Our strategy

Our strategy is to achieve sustainable growth over the long term, increasing shareholder value through sound commercial and responsible business decisions that deliver steady growth in earnings and dividends. Our ownership structure provides us with the stability to invest in businesses that we believe in and to support the growth of those businesses over the long term. This means our ESG agenda is shaped by the leaders within each business who are closest to the opportunities and risks. ESG factors are not only taken into account within business strategy, they are put into effect by people at every level of the Group who are trusted and empowered to exercise good judgement.

Our Grocery business is founded on strong brands with leading positions in many markets around the world. Twinings Ovaltine has grown under ABF ownership to become a global business with growth opportunities in new and emerging markets for both teas and malt-based products. In UK Grocery we use creative consumer marketing to build brand differentiation and, where appropriate, internationalisation to deliver growth.

We have more than 40 leading brands of essential grocery staples including Dorset Cereals, Jordans, Ryvita, Kingsmill, Patak’s and Blue Dragon. These brands are found in nine out of 10 UK households and in millions of kitchens across Europe, Australasia and North America. George Weston Foods operates from well-invested facilities and distributes products primarily across Australia and New Zealand.

The major brands are Tip Top baked products, Don processed meats and Yumi’s chilled dips and vegetarian snacks. ACH operates in the US, Canada and Mexico, packaging and distributing vegetable oils such as Mazola and Capullo as well as corn starch and corn syrups.

AB Sugar is one of the world’s largest sugar producers. We operate predominantly in the UK, Iberia and southern Africa where we have strong market positions. We build a partnership with our growers and invest across our operations, including in engineering innovation, to deliver low-cost, highquality products and superior service performance to ensure that we are the supplier of choice to our industrial and retail customers.

In southern Africa our retail consumer offering is growing quickly as the economies of the countries outside South Africa rapidly develop. We have developed our product portfolio beyond sugar to provide incremental revenue streams from products such as biofuels and animal feed. At many of our plants we generate renewable electricity for onsite use with surplus exported to local grids. We see exciting potential ahead through leading edge technologies and continuous improvement.

AB Agri is an international agri-food business and a leader in the UK. We occupy a key position in the food supply chain with a presence in more than 80 countries and we supply a wide range of animal feed, supplements, specialist ingredients and value-added services and expertise to farmers, feed and food manufacturers and retailers. 

There is considerable opportunity for growth by strengthening our position in current markets, expanding into new markets, making greater use of data and technology both for our businesses and for our customers’ operations, investing in new proteins, and building on our established position of strength in the dairy industry.

Our Ingredients businesses enable or enhance the production of food and other products important to society. AB Mauri manufactures and sells yeast and ingredients of a consistent high quality to the baking industry. We operate globally and have particularly strong market positions in the Americas and Europe.

Our investment in innovation generates opportunities for growth with a Global Technology Centre in the Netherlands. ABF Ingredients develops and manufactures specialty ingredients for the food, health and nutrition, pharmaceutical, animal health and industrial sectors. We focus on high-value niches and are differentiated by our technology, product quality, and customer-centric culture. The breadth and low cyclicality of our products, customer base and applications provide commercial resilience. Our strategy is for growth both through acquisitions and organically through geographical expansion, innovation, and new applications.

Primark’s vision is to provide a wide choice of great quality essential clothing and fashion at prices that are affordable to as many people as possible. Our strategy is to drive business growth through the development of existing product categories, expansion into new product categories, and space expansion in both existing and new countries.

Our customer appeal is supported by our commitment to price leadership, an exciting store environment, an increasingly sophisticated use of digital and online technologies, and an industry-leading sustainability programme.

The combination of these attributes differentiates us sharply. Our digital strategy for marketing, customer engagement and product ordering, with physical retailing for fulfilment, will deliver future growth at good margins.


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