Associated British Foods (ABF) is a diversified conglomerate with significant interests in food products, fashion retail and ingredients manufacturing. For much of the second half of the 20th century, it was Britain's biggest food company before being overtaken by international rivals. Nevertheless, it remains a substantial business, best-known in the UK for a small but influential portfolio of packaged grocery products, including Kingsmill bread, Silver Spoon sugar and Twinings tea, but also for the extraordinarily successful clothing chain Primark which has in a comparatively short space of time become an important rival to local market leaders Top Shop and Next. ABF also has operations in Australia and North America. Although a large proportion of its shares are publicly owned, the company is controlled by the Weston family, who also have other extensive interests, including bakeries in North America, Canadian supermarket giant Loblaw, and upscale department stores in the UK including Fortnum & Mason, Selfridges and Heal's.
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|Blue Dragon||British Sugar|
|Burgen||Jacksons of Piccadilly|
|Holt Renfrew||Fortnum & Mason|
Adbrands Weekly Update 5th Nov 2015: Discount fashion chain Primark was again the star performer among the collected businesses of diversified conglomerate Associated British Foods. Strong international growth, especially in France, helped Primark's revenues to rise by a further 8% to a record £5.35bn, and the first US store opened in Boston in September, just before the group's fiscal year-end. Primark's strong showing offset declines elsewhere in the group, including in its large groceries division, where revenues slipped 5% to £3.2bn. There were even steeper declines in the sugar and agriculture divisions. Group revenues came off 1% to £12.8bn, but pretax profit slumped 30%, as a result of higher commodities, weak trading and impairments against one of its industrial joint ventures.
Adbrands Weekly Update 6th Nov 2014: Low cost fashion retailer Primark delivered another extraordinary performance in the year to Sept 2014, with revenues up by 16% to £495bn, and a 29% jump in operating profit to £662m. Though much smaller than rivals H&M and Inditex, Primark is still delivering much stronger growth, with a growing footprint across Europe. The key challenge ahead is the chain's debut into the US next year. Primark was, as usual, the star performer among Associated British Foods' various businesses. Group revenues slipped 3% as a result of currency fluctuations to £12.9bn. At constant rates growth would have been 1%, but that increase was generated entirely by Primark, with virtually all of ABF's food divisions reporting a decline at constant rates.
Adbrands Weekly Update 18th Jul 2013: In Canada, leading supermarket group Loblaw acquired the country's biggest pharmacy retailer Shoppers Drug Mart for around $11.9bn. The resulting company becomes Canada's biggest business by revenues with sales in excess of $42bn and more than 2,240 stores nationwide. The Canadian media was almost unanimously positive about the move, which creates a strong national champion to counter the relentless expansion of Walmart, Costco, Target and other US invaders. Last month, Loblaw's main homegrown rival Sobey's snapped up the US operations of Safeway for $5.8bn. Loblaw is controlled by the enterprising Weston family, whose various other interests include George Weston Foods of Canada, the UK's Associated British Foods and its fashion retail subsidiary Primark, as well as upscale department stores Selfridges and Fortnum & Mason.
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