Subsidiary Companies


One of Irelands largest cake manufacturers, Gateaux Ltd, was bought in July 1970 in a £300,000 deal by Lyons Irish Holdings Ltd, the Lyons group subsidiary in Dublin. Until this time Lyons Irish Holdings had been concerned, through its operating subsidiary, Lyons (Ireland) Ltd, with packing and selling Lyons teas, coffees and breakfast cereals.

Gateaux had about 60% of the packaged cake market in Ireland. The main factory was at Finglas, Dublin. Established in 1949, Gateaux had an annual turnover at acquisition of £2 million, with two thirds of their sales in the home market and one third exported. In the UK their customers included Marks & Spencer. The Gateaux label was known in 57 countries. One of their famous exports was the Molly O'Rourke tinned cake, liberally laced with spirits, it sold well in Australia and New York where the Macy's department store was a regular customer. The cakes sold to Marks & Spencer were rich fruit with the tops covered in Brazil nuts and cherries. The big seller in Jamaica was their deep frozen Swiss roll.

The business was built up by members of the Dacus family and the MD at the time of takeover was Leslie Dacus. When Lyons took them over three Lyons Holdings directors joined the Gateaux board. They were: G. G. Patterson, P. O. B. Butler and J. F. O'Meara.

Patterson had joined Lyons in 1935 from Trinity College, Dublin, where he had graduated with a MA. He was appointed a director of the Irish company and manager of the Northern Ireland district in 1942. For four year (1946-50) he worked successfully as director in charge of sales for Lyons in South Africa, Rhodesia and Canada. He rejoined the Irish company in 1950.

O'Meara had joined the Irish company as a trainee manager in 1936. He started as a van salesman, became a caterers' tea representative and immediately after the war was appointed assistant manager of Eire and Northern Ireland. He became managing director in 1950.

Butler, Dublin born like Patterson, studied law and qualified as a solicitor. He joined Lyons as a management trainee in 1958 and started as relief salesman in Olaf Street, Willesden. He went to Dublin the following year and joined Lyons there. He was appointed a director in 1962. Mr Butler was made joint managing director of Gateaux with Leslie Dacus.

The manufacturing plant of Gateaux closed in September 1990. At an EGM of shareholders of Lyons Irish Holdings plc on 20 December 1990, they approved the sale of Gateaux Limited to J. Lyons & Company Limited. Being part of the European Bakery Sector, Gateaux Limited operated as the sales and distribution company in Ireland.




© Peter Bird 2002