Subsidiary Companies

Courtesy Burton's Foods Ltd

Courtesy Peter Bird


Symbol Biscuits Ltd
...(Lyons Biscuits Ltd)

Apart from low volume wafer biscuits, Lyons were not associated with biscuit manufacture until 1938 when they secured nearly 54 per cent of the Bee Bee Biscuit Company, which they bought from Lesme Ltd, a couverture company founded by Leslie Atwell, a grandson of Isidore Gluckstein. Bee Bee Biscuits had originated in 1922 as the Blackpool Biscuit Company. Selling its brandy snap and Shrewsbury biscuits locally, it quickly expanded and in 1924 not only introduced travelling salesmen but had to move to larger premises. In 1931 Lesme, which were based in Willesden, London, acquired control of the company and, as chairman, Atwell moved the registered office to London, while production continued at Blackpool. Eight and a half acres of land was purchased in 1932 and a new factory building was erected in Devonshire Road, Blackpool, to which production transferred two years later. Bee Bee became one of the pioneers of pre-packed biscuits, which up until 1933 had largely been sold loose or in tins. In June 1944 Lyons incorporated Symbol Biscuits Ltd and on 1 April 1950 the company changed its name back to Bee Bee Biscuits Ltd. In January 1968 the sales team were fully integrated with the Tea Division salesmen.

Symbol manufactured approximately forty different types of sweet, dry and savoury biscuits packed and sold under the Symbol and Lyons brands, its logo being an elephant's head. A wide variety of customers' own labels were packed for sale in stores and supermarkets both in the UK and overseas. Their introduction of Maryland Cookies in 1956 brought a significant increase in revenues.

During the 1964/5 financial year the Company made an offer for the outstanding 11.71% interest in Symbol Biscuits Limited (which had changed its name again in the meantime), for £112,653 which was satisfied in cash. The Company took the advice of Lazard Brother & Co in fixing the price which would be fair and reasonable as between holders of the outstanding shares in Symbol as vendors and the Company as purchasers. Certain of the Directors had an interest in 31,383 shares.

In 1976, when a Viennese Whirl plant was installed, cake was added to Symbol's biscuit lines. The firm that had begun life as the Blackpool Biscuit Company had a final change of name in 1990 when it became Lyons Biscuits Ltd. It continued to trade profitably until 17 December 1994 when the business was sold to a subsidiary of Hillsdown Holdings plc as part of asset disposals for an undisclosed sum, thought to be £20 million. At the time 780 people worked at the Blackpool factory.

Since then it has been acquired by a US investment house and is currently part of Burton's Foods Ltd, the second largest biscuit company in the UK.



© Peter Bird 2002