Factory Index


Cornelius Homburg

An aerial view of the Homburg factory

.Ulrich factory, Rotterdam - 1969

Ulrich Administration team 1969. They are from (L-R) Rhita v.d. Tol, Peter le Brun, H. Poel, H. Schram, Miss Nel Roos, A. Kruidenier. Peter le Brun is reading a copy of the Lyons Mail for Sept 1969.

Peter Erades General Manager 1969

Brink head office

Brink directors. From left to right: Kees Jongmans (managing director of Brink), Boudewijn Linder (Brink sales and marketing director), Paul Kouwenberg (Brink production director)    

European Businesses

The Wholesale Tea Department at Cadby Hall first introduced tea to the Netherlands in 1910. By 1911 vans were operating in Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Paris and Germany and later other continental countries were included. In 1920 the newly acquired Overseas Trading Corporation, based in Jersey, took over the sale of Lyons tea on the continent. The beginnings of the European Community date from 9 May 1950 when Robert Schuman, Foreign Minister of France, proposed that France and Germany should pool their coal and steel industries under an independent high authority in a community open to membership of other European nations. Belgium, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands accepted the invitation but Britain did not join the EEC until 1 January 1973. During Britain's negotiable period, which started in June 1970, on joining the Community, Lyons laid plans for a business expansion into Europe thus facilitating management's desire to become a global player in food production. The first reference to this can be found in the Seventy-Eighth Annual Report (1972) when the Chairman (Brian Salmon) said: 'In particular, in the current year and more so in the years to come the Group will be developing increasingly as a European business'. By the mid 1960s Lyons already had subsidiary operations in Canada, Jersey, Ireland, Kenya, Malawi, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), South Africa and USA and by the end of the sixties the value of goods exported by Lyons from the UK amounted to £2.4 million. Although the unprofitable Canadian and South African interests were sold off in 1969 considerable investment was made in hotels and baking interests and their jointly owned Alpha Hotel opened in Amsterdam in 1971.

Dutch Bakery Interests

De Zwitserse Patisserie Ulrich N.V. (The Swiss Patisserie)

The company's founder Christoph Ulrich, was born in Switzerland in 1759. As a young baker he worked in many countries before buying a bakery and making his home in Rotterdam in 1786. In the early years of the twentieth century his firm established more bakeries in the centre and west of Rotterdam and in 1923 on the Straatweg at Rotterdam-Hillegersberg (Hillegersberg being a district of Rotterdam).

Ulrich continued producing high quality cakes for over 30 years. In 1956 the company became part of Sitos, the largest bakers and confectioners in the Netherlands. Nine years later (1965) the group decided to separate its different functions and Ulrich became specialists in the mass-produced cake market operating from their factory in Rotterdam which was on a new industrial estate close to road, rail, river, canal and air networks linking them with the rest of the Netherlands and Europe. Ulrich had a staff of eighty and distribution facilities throughout the Netherlands. In June 1969 J. Lyons acquired a 51 per cent holding of Ulrich N.V. who by now had become Holland's leading brand in the mass cake market. Lyons had not chosen Ulrich because of its size but because it had great potential, offering a springboard into Europe for the Lyons branded cakes. It also had an excellent distribution system. Of Ulrich's 22 salesmen, six were based in Rotterdam. Ulrich also had depots in Den Haag and Amsterdam. Lyons had been selling Baby Hostess Rolls in the Netherlands since the beginning of 1969. They and Battenberg cake were selling in over 2,500 supermarkets and shops in the Netherlands by the end of the year. With this success a wider range of cakes including Orange and Lemon Cup Cakes, Lemon Souflette, Individual Apple and Apricot Pies, Jam Tarts, Golden Angel Cake and Scribona's Majorca Slice were test marketed. Ulrich's requirements of English cakes were assessed weekly by their general manager Peter Erades, aided by the administration manager Peter Le Brun, and phoned through to Cadby Hall each Friday. The goods left Cadby Hall the following Tuesday afternoon and were shipped via Ipswich to arrive at Ulrich on Thursday morning for immediate delivery. After acquisition the Company was renamed Lyons Bakkerijen B.V. and became the holding company for the planned Dutch bakery operations.

Hooimeijer en Zonen N.V.

In March 1973 a 99 per cent stake was obtained in Hooimeijer en Zonen N.V. whose factory and offices were located at Barendrecht to the south of Rotterdam. Founded in Rotterdam in 1905 by Arie Hooimeijer, the business moved to a new modern factory in Barendrecht in 1933 and specialised in the manufacture of rusks and biscuits. Before Hooimeijer became part of the Lyons Group, they had acquired a number of bakeries and were, by the time of the Lyons acquisition, a mini bakery group themselves. The first of their acquisitions came in 1959 when they bought a company called Hille & Zoon whose factory was situated at Zaandam. A year before, in 1958, Hille & Zoon had acquired the Haust bakery in Amsterdam. This had been named after its founder, John Haust, who started his business in 1825 in the centre of Amsterdam. When Haust started their business it was surrounded by market gardens. Each morning when their first batch of bread was ready, the baker blew on his horn to tell the local market gardeners. Since that time the company's brand logo featured a horn, and does so to the present day. John Haust had purchased a bread bakery with the unlikely name of De Volharding (The Persistency) where he manufactured toast, pastry and honey-cake. They became brand leaders in the Dutch market and in 1924 the company received a Royal Warrant. Thereafter his bakery became known as the Royal Haust Factory. After the acquisition of Haust (and Hille), Hooimeijer closed the Hille bakery in Zaandam and moved their production to Barendrecht. The Haust brand was retained and used by Hooimeijer, not only because it was easier to pronounce than Hooimeijer, but because the brand had a well-established reputation.

Hooimeijer's next acquisition came in 1957 when they bought Koek-en Banketfabrieken A.H.O. B.V. This company had been established in 1884 by Adrianus Huibregts and his spouse Lucie Ooms and was based in Tilburg; the company deriving its name from the (A)drianus (H)uibregts-(O)oms partnership. The business concentrated on the production of honey-cake and pastry and in 1957 they opened a new bakery in Goirle where production concentrated on biscuits, and particularly, a Dutch spiced biscuit called Speculaas.

By 1966 Hooimeijer were again seeking further expansion of their business and bought Stereo, a strong brand name in the field of honey-cake, who were based in Rotterdam. This plant too was closed and production transferred to Barendrecht. This, all together, formed the Hooimeijer bakery group which Lyons acquired in 1973. Gert van Bergeijk was appointed managing director, a function he retained until his retirement in the early 1990s. However this was not the end of the Hooimeijer expansion.

Jb. Bussink's Koninklijke Deventer Koekfabrieken B.V

In May 1973 Lyons acquired (by way of their subsidiary Hooimeijer) the old Dutch cake business of Jb. Bussink's Koninklijke Deventer Koekfabrieken B.V. which celebrated its 400 year history in 1993. Bussink was world famous for its Deventer honey cake. The company was founded in 1593 in the city of Deventer from which the cake takes its name. Johan Schutte and his brother Gerrit had been admitted to the Dutch baking guild at this time and set up their bakery in 1593. The business prospered during the next 300 years and continued to be owned and operated by succeeding generations of the family. In 1886 the Schutte bakery was bought by another Deventer baking business which had been founded in 1820 by Jacob Bussink. At the time it was owned by Lyons, it was the only company making the famous Deventer cake and one of the few companies in Holland which could justifiably lay claim to a 400-year history.

By 1977 J. Lyons & Co. had run into financial difficulties and attempted to sell their Dutch baking interests to mitigate their losses. Several potential buyers were approached but after their scrutiny of the facts all, unanimously, came to the conclusion that: Hooimeijer lacked strong brand names and concentrated too much on private label business. Their products sold in the mid-range consumer category and were considered to be down-market. These two factors, private label and down-market products, created permanent pressure on margins resulting in low overall profit. Hooimeijer also had too many factories with the inability to concentrate production without huge investment and there was a backlog of essential maintenance. In an effort to improve profits Hooimeijer again began to expand by acquisition.

Galema B.V.

In 1980 Galema B.V. was bought. This was a small melba-toast bakery in Harlingen but it did not come up to management expectations. In effect it was a disappointingly run business which had a number of shortcomings. There was a continuing dispute with residential neighbours who complained frequently about the bad smell and noise emanating from the factory. It was old, suffered from a lack of investment, and their were personnel difficulties. Nevertheless management decided to buy the business believing that it would help revive their fortunes. It did not. In short it was a disaster and was closed down two years later in 1982.

Brink B.V

Also in 1985 Hooimeijer acquired the bakery interests of Brink B.V. who main products were sandwich biscuits (Doppel Keks), shortbread rings and wafers. Their headquarters and one of the factories was located at Roosendaal, near the Belgian border. Their other factory was located at Rucphen, about 45 miles of Rotterdam. Brink's products were sold in a number of export markets, and they were in fact the largest exporters of bakery products in Holland, with 80 per cent of their production going abroad. The business sold about £8 million worth of products a year and in 1985 it was still growing. In the UK their sandwich biscuits and shortbread rings were sold under the brand names of Brink and Youpia. One hundred and thirty people worked in the business and the managing director at the time of acquisition was Kees Jongmans. He was accountable to the managing director of Hooimeijer, Gert van Bergeijk. In turn van Bergeijk was accountable to Allied-Lyons assistant managing director, Jack Silverman. In 1991 the Lyons board approved a £2 million investment application for extra production facilities at the Rucphen so that Brink could satisfy a huge demand from Germany having just won a major supply contract to supply the discount supermarket group, Aldi, with sandwich biscuits. During 1990 the Rucphen factory produced 17 million 500g packs of these biscuits and sales were expected to increase by 30 per cent during the 12 months following investment.

Baartmans Wafelfabriek B.V.

Baartmans was a subsidiary of Brink B.V. Established in 1910 in Bergen op Zoom, they were a honey-cake manufacturer who moved to Roosendaal but after two severe factory fires they moved production to Rucphen.


JOKO B.V. was a holding company for Baartmans and Brinks. In 1985 Will Nijsse, an Accountant with Allied-Lyons, was approached by an intermediary regarding a dispute between a Dutch family who ran the JOKO bakery interests (Baartmans and Brinks) in Holland. Will Nijsse, after long discussions with the family, suggested they might like to consider selling their business and thus solve their disagreements. This was agreed and subsequently a recommendation was made to the Lyons management that they should consider buying this holding company with its two subsidiaries. It became part of Hooimeijer in May 1985. It is thought that JOKO are abbreviations of family names. One is possibly Kees (JO)ngmans the managing director of Brink and Paul (KO)uwenberg, Brink's production director.

It is worth recording at this point that Gert van Bergeijk was made an Officer of the Order of Oranje Nassau by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands in May 1987. The royal decoration was presented by the Burgomaster of Barendrecht, where Hooimeijer had their headquarters. Gert van Bergeijk had been active in trade association work and helped to form a bakery products trade association called Verbisko, becoming its first secretary and later its chairman. He was also chairman of the rusk section of the association and in that role made important contributions to the restructuring of the rusk industry in Holland. He was also chairman of a federation of manufacturers in the sugar products industry, was chairman of a Rotterdam hospital and was also active in local church affairs. When he had completed 25 years with the company, in September 1991, and just prior to his retirement, a special event was held in an old fort near Breda to commemorate his anniversary. Almost the entire workforce of Hooimeijer watched as he descended from the ceiling amid billowing smoke and mysterious music. One of the unusual features of the event involved a giant jigsaw puzzle. During the evening each factory and office presented a piece of the puzzle until the whole company was represented. When complete, the puzzle was reversed to show an idyllic countryside scene featuring birds (Gert was a keen ornithologist) and two Haust characters which featured in Hooimeijer's best-selling toast product. Two powered bicycles were presented to Mr and Mrs van Bergeijk for their retirement.

Belgium Bakery Interests

Tecribel N.V.

In 1988 Hooimeijer acquired the Belgium company Tecribel N.V. which made rice cakes. The company was started in 1981 in Buizingen, near Brussels, by Michel Dekeyser and quickly became market leader in Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg, their trading figures doubling year on year since incorporation. This success was followed by the development of a wider export market in several Middle East countries. In 1987 the company set up a plant at Meximieux (near Lyon), France, to better service markets in southern Europe. This French subsidiary was called Exfran. One of Tecribel's customers was Symbol Biscuits in Blackpool, who marketed Tecribel products in the UK under the name SliceaRice. This was a rice cake aimed at the growing crisp-bread and savoury biscuit market, and could be eaten as the base of an everyday snack with a savoury or sweet topping or as a biscuit/crisp-bread accompaniment. The product was gluten free, had no artificial additives and a low calorie count of 25 per slice. The manufacturing process consisted of grains of rice which were subjected to high compression and heat, a combination which exploded each grain, causing it to adhere to its neighbours and from which a round disc of blown rice was produced. The flavour was said to be similar to that of popcorn. Michel Dekeyser joined Hooimeijer and all Tecribel's commercial, production and marketing activities were integrated into Hooimeijer.

German Bakery and Tea Interests

Marina Kuchen G.m.b.H.

The entire issued share capital of the German company was purchased by Lyons on 24 May 1973 of which 12.5 percent was disposed of on 13 September 1973. Its purchase established a base for developing cake interests in Germany and the company absorbed the former Grotemeyer manufacturing and Altmann distribution businesses in Westphalia, near Dortmund. The business manufactured a large range of cake amongst which was Weihnachtsstollen, the well-known German Christmas cake. Their products were low value intended for the cheap market position. The business had no contact with the other continental bakeries and were not very profitable. The managing director was Michael Jowett, who had stayed on in Germany after the Second World War. He married a German girl and his grasp of the language was excellent.

Hig Hubert Hagemann

Hagemann was the largest importer and distributor of biscuits and long shelf-life bakery products in Germany in which Lyons had an interest. As well as product manufactured by Hooimeijer and Lyons Biscuits, it also handled the sales and marketing of Krombach's range.

A. Krombach & Sohne

Krombach & Sohne, a biscuit manufacturer, was acquired in July 1993. The business was located in Solingen near Dusseldorf, and manufactured a range of quality sweet biscuits, including half coated chocolate and seasonal coconut macaroons. The business became part of Continental Bakeries under Hooimeijer.

Schmidt & Schneemilch

In 1987 J. Lyons & Co. acquired this tea packing and distribution company based in Hamburg, Germany. This operation was closed in March 1991 and moved to the UK. The Greenford factory continued to supply black tea and herbal infusion products under the company's Windsor Castle trademark.

French Bakery Interests

Picard SA (Auga)

Picard's Auga brand was number two in France and the company was frequently referred to as Picard-Auga. They were acquired in October 1992 as a key element in the company's pan-European strategic design; described by Gordon Jenkins as: 'by the year 2000 the European Bakery's aim was to have developed a profitable position as a leading European sweet baked snack producer supported by a range of complimentary products to meet local needs'. Thus the acquisition of Picard-Auga gave J. Lyons, for the first time, a manufacturing facility and national branded sales and distribution organisation in France. The company had been founded in 1951 and had grown steadily to become the second largest manufacturer of rusks, toasted bread, toast and crisp rolls in France. Its turnover in 1991 was £45 million. Toasted bread products, which have a shelf life of between six and nine months, were big business in France with consumption put at 113,000 tonnes a year. They were eaten for breakfast with butter and jam and as a bread substitute. Other products in the Auga range were savoury and eaten during the day. Picard employed approximately 600 staff with its headquarters at Chateauroux. There were three production centres at Epinal, Reims and St-Etienne producing 24,000 tonnes a year. The company manufactured also for private label and catering outlets as well as in the branded sector. Each production centre was capable of making all product ranges with the exception of crisp rolls; these were only made at St-Etienne. Fifteen per cent of Picard's production was exported.

Italian Bakery Interests

Industrie Riunite del Panforte di Siena S.p.A.

Sapori, as it was more generally known, was purchased by Lyons on 1 July 1972 when they acquired the entire share capital. Subsequently, In January 1973, Sapori purchased the Park Hotel Marzocchi in Siena. This Italian company specialised in the manufacture of Panforte, a famous spiced Siena speciality cake as well as various other speciality cakes and confectionery products. The business had been founded by Virgil Sapori in 1832 making the now famous Panforte cake of honey, candied fruit and nuts. However, the history of Panforte can be traced back to the thirteenth century, when monks of a monastery near Siena received tithes from their tenants of sweetmeats made with fruit, nuts and honey. One of the company's advertising slogans became a popular saying in Italy: 'When you talk about the Palio you say Siena, when you talk about Panforte you say Sapori'. Since the Second World War the company grew to become a brand leader in traditional Sienese products as well as diversifying into the manufacture of chocolates, Easter eggs and some traditional bakery items. Between the time of their acquisition by Lyons in 1972 and their 150th anniversary in 1982, some small acquisitions were made; Delicia in northern Italy and Pepi a local Siena bakery. These two companies added boiled sweets, chewing gum, biscuits and Sienese specialities to Sapori's product range. In the summer of 1991 Sapori was sold to the Dutch company Chocolade Groder. The sale included the biscuit subsidiary Pepi. The reason put forward by management said: 'Sapori, with its range of highly seasonal products and specialised distribution network, had no role in developing the types of pan-European products and markets that the sector intended to concentrate on'.


In preparation

Spanish Bakery Interests

Panrico S.A. , Panificio Rivera-Costafreda S.L. & Panifcadora Guixolense

Lyons interests in European markets had tended to be concentrated on the EEC and until 1973 they had not involved themselves to any great extent in Spain (Spain did not become a member of the EEC until 1986). Nevertheless, with a population of nearly 40 million, management were impressed with the rate of industrial growth and the commercial prospects in that country and accordingly, in November 1973, they acquired a 50 per cent interest in two linked enterprises, Panrico S.A. and Panificio Rivera-Costafreda S.L. both of which were engaged in the business of cake and biscuit related products including the long-life products of: Grissini (bread sticks) Biscotti Fetine (toast), packaged cakes and creme caramel. In January 1974 Lyons subsequently made a further move by the acquisition of a 50 per cent interest in each of six doughnut manufacturing companies all of which operated under a franchise of the Groups DCA subsidiary. The companies were:

Donut Corporation de Barcelona SA

Donut Corporation de Malaga SA

Donut Corporation del Norte SA

Donut Corporation de Sevilla SA

Donut Corporation de Valencia SA

Panificadora Guixolense SA

Although the Spanish businesses were slow to show profit they did accelerate far faster than the UK bakery market and were in much better shape than their UK counterparts by the 1980s. Lyons' largest joint-venture with Panrico went from strength to strength achieving a notable 35 per cent compound increase in profits over five years. By the early 1990s Panrico was the bakery sector's main source of profit outstripping those based in the UK. Their doughnut business had 85 per cent of the Spanish market and Bollycao (a bread roll with chocolate filling) 90 per cent. So great was demand for sliced bread that a new bread-making plant had to be installed in Madrid and Barcelona while another opened in Portugal. The Spanish acquisitions had delivered up what management anticipated in 1973.

Merging of European Bakery Interests

The French, German and Dutch baking interests were merged into a single group known as Continental Bakeries in the Autumn of 1994 with new logos and products. The brands of the three companies Picard (Auga) of France, Krombach (HIG) of Germany and Hooimeijer (Haust) of the Netherlands were strengthened. However, this 'marriage' also involved the inauguration of new automated production and logistic systems designed to improve distribution and increase levels of service. The system was based around a software package called Prism, which linked the sales, distribution and production departments of all company's. Prism enabled order processing staff to see current and future stock levels. It also indicated the timing and length of promotional campaigns and any price changes which were made as a result. Prism went live on 30 May 1994 after nearly two years of preparation by Hooimeijer's logistic automation project team and enabled customers to order by Electronic Data Exchange.

European Meat Businesses

Dutch Meat Processing Interests

Homburg N.V.

The meat processing expansion into Europe started in 1972 when J. Lyons Netherlands Holdings B.V. acquired a 99.8 per cent interest in the share capital of Homburg N.V. whose main factory was situated in the south-east of the Netherlands. Simon Homburg was made chairman of the supervisory board and his son, Bill Homburg, managing director. The company was described at the time as one of the major pork meat processing businesses in western Europe which had developed a high degree of technology in its field having complete control of all pig processing from breeding to numerous finished products. It was alleged that the only components of the pig not used were the eyes and the grunt. The company had been founded in 1932 by Simon Homburg who retired in 1977. The business started in Haarlem, at first producing sausages but later a wide range of canned goods were produced. In 1949 the factory at Cuyk in the south-east of the Netherlands was acquired including a slaughterhouse. Subsequently other plants in Wilp, Olst, Goor and Wijhe were bought and the company grew to become a major force in the port meat trade in the Netherlands. In August 1972 Homburg acquired the entire share capital of Vleeswarenfabriek Beckers N.V. and thus it became a fully owned subsidiary. Beckers was the largest manufacturers in the Netherlands of speciality products for the catering trade, notably frikadellen (a skinless sausage).

Homburg had a number of smaller subsidiaries namely, Kips, B. Linthorst, Jongmans and Mulfric but most importantly Fomeva B.V., a pig breeding station about three miles from the main factory. Prior to 1963 all the pigs required by the factory were purchased at market or direct from farmers but supplies tended to fluctuate in both quantity and quality. To overcome these difficulties Homburg decided to establish their own pig breeding station (Fomeva) to produce about 200 fattened pigs per week to help keep supplies regular. Fomeva also acted as a research station where the company were able to test different breeds to determine all that could be understood about pigs from the perspective of profitable long-term production. By the time that Lyons acquired Homburg the Fomeva breeding station had acquired an international reputation. It no longer supplied pigs for factory processing but had evolved its own special breed of pig which it sold to sub-breeders. The job of the sub-breeders, mostly farmers in different parts of the Netherlands, was to raise high quality gilts (young females) which were then sent to other farmers called multipliers. The multipliers, with boars supplied by Fomeva, raised pigs which ultimately were destined for the factory. Between multipliers and factory there was one other stage, that of fattening. The young pigs were sent by the multipliers to yet more farmers who raised them under strictly controlled routines to the Formeva prescribed weights, when the animals were ready for slaughter. Every stage of this process was carefully supervised by the Fomeva specialists to ensure their high standards were met throughout. The manager of this station was A. H. C. Kuipers who was brought in by Simon Homburg in 1962 to set up the pig farm. Kuipers trained and practised as a veterinary surgeon, later he became manager of a slaughtering business, and then director of a co-operative artificial insemination unit. The total staff employed by the Fomeva unit was approximately 75.

The Homburg Board of Directors were: L. de Wijze, G. Mol, H. Janssen, M. Broere, A. Heun and S. van der Oosterkamp. In 1988 Beckers acquired a meat snack business in the Netherlands called Tappaz Beheer B.V. Tappaz and its subsidiaries had two plants producing fricandels, hamburgers and sauces, one in Bocholt, Belgium ad the other in Someron, the Netherlands. In Belgium sales were mainly to catering establishments and in the Netherlands to retail outlets. Tappaz was placed under the overall control of Wim Andriessen, managing director of Beckers, making the combined operation one of the largest meat snack producers in the Netherlands. In 1990 the Beckers business was sold to a management buyout led by Wim Andriessen. It included sales depots in France, the UK, Spain and Germany as well as the Benelux countries.

Belgium Meat Interests

Vleeswarenfabriek Beckers N.V.

See Homburg.

French Meat Interests

Le Rosemont S.A.

On 29 September 1972, 80 per cent of this company was acquired. Le Rosemont in Besancon, was said to be the leading Charcuterie firm of its region.

Societe Nouvelle des Ets. Reybier

A major shareholding in this company was made on 24 January 1973. Based in Lyon they were one of the leading branded meat and charcuterie businesses in France. Its business was divided between a meat wholesale division and a retail division. By 1976 the small profits it had made since acquisition began to dissipate. Management decided to concentrate on the larger wholesale side of the business and the retail division was sold off in 1975. Despite this corrective action the organisational and control problems continued to affect the company's performance in what was described as 'a difficult market'. Added to the trading difficulties was a tax demand of 19.4 million Francs. This subsequently had no substance when it was appealed against. However, by 1977 the Annual Report to shareholders said: '   the Reybier meat business in Lyons seriously underperformed'. As a result the loss-making fresh meat business was discontinued, two of the factories were sold and another closed. Following this decision, £2 million of the Reybier goodwill was written off. The company was sold in November 1979 (along with Henry Telfer) to Unigate.


This obscure and anomalous Dutch registered company was a vehicle for buying and selling currencies on the foreign exchange markets to hedge currency exposure with any profits treated as a bonus. In 1972 and 1973 when Lyons made their Continental acquisitions, mainly in the Netherlands but also in France, Italy and Germany, they were faced with, until then, unexpected difficulties associated with overseas trading and the complexities of currency control. In order to better manage this dilemma the Lyons Board recruited a Treasurer (Vernon Cull) who took up his responsibilities at Cadby Hall on 1st October 1975. Additionally John Baxter, (previously with Bowater Inc. U.S.A.) was appointed Financial Coordinator for the Lyons' American interests and in the Netherlands Will Nijsse (also previously with the Bowater Group), was appointed to the same position for the Netherlands. At this time it was decided to create a central financial function for forward buying and selling of foreign currencies in order to minimize the currency risks for the whole Lyons Group of Companies. It made use of computer technology, developed for Lyons in the period before they became part of the Allied Breweries group. Under the direction of Cliff Robinson (and Maureen O'Rourke as analyst/programmer) computer programs were specified which were able to forecast, with some moderate reliability, when exchange rates might alter and were thus, able to foretell when to buy or sell currency on the best terms. It was so successful that management used it speculatively, not just to buy currency for normal trading purposes, but to treat currency transactions as a business activity.

However, Lyons bankers, and the Bank of England, were not captivated with these ambitions and for this reason the new LIF company was incorporated. Because of the hostile stance of UK banks the new company was based in the Netherlands under Dutch management. The Central Bank of the Netherlands took a more liberal attitude and LIF B.V. was incorporated on 31 December 1975. It was originally planned to name the new company Lyons International Finance, but for political reasons it was thought better to operate furtively beneath a name that disclosed nothing of the company's activities. The official documents at the Chamber of Commerce in The Hague declares that 'Willem J.Nijsse is the Managing Director' and the Supervisory Board show the names of 'Eric M.Asher ( Lyons Company Secretary) ,Christopher L. R. Salmon ( Lyons' Director) responsible for the Netherlands, and John. N. Mendelssohn' (Lyons' Finance Director ). From the outset LIF operated successfully and the number of currency transactions grew gradually. The internal controls were very strict, they had to be because of the £ millions which passed through the books. If the management of the Dutch companies wished to buy or sell forward foreign currency, they could do so with LIF and they were no longer allowed to enter into currency transactions with their own bankers. In January 1978, a situation arose predicting that, if LIF were to close-out all outstanding currency contracts they would make an one day profit of Dfl 5.3 million which was close to £2 million. But the computer programs said: Hold! Nevertheless after hours of discussion it was decided to override the computer's advise, the potential profit was too compelling, and all outstanding contracts were closed on 5 January 1978. There was an additional advantage following this closure. LIF's tax year ended on 31 December 1977 and the Dfl 5.3 million had to be declared in the tax year 1978. Consequently the Dutch group could use the full Dfl 5.3 million for at least one-and-a-half years and in this way saved more than Dfl 0.5 million on overdraft interest. In time the Bank of England changed their rules and it became more practical to centralise currency transactions in London. After Allied Breweries had absorbed J. Lyons & Co, Vernon Cull left Cadby Hall and joined the new Head Office where the currency transactions continued from 1979. In the meantime a large acquisitions was made in Canada (Hiram-Walker) and their Finance Director, Cliff Hatch, became the Finance Director of the larger group. By now the computer currency programs had been improved further and the Group started to speculate in foreign currency. In a news release of May 1991 the Charman claimed that £10 million per annum was being made from these activities. From June 1989 the treasury department diversified into trading in foreign currency options in the volatile derivatives market, a high risk activity. The scale of trading, notably in put-options, grew substantially during 1990 and became increasingly disproportionate to foreign currency cash-flow requirements. The group finance director, Cliff Hatch, received warnings from internal and external sources that exposure limits had been breached. The corrective action taken failed and became critical when the US dollar rapidly strengthened giving rise to a £147 million loss. Lyons' bankers took action to close-out the positions and were able to mitigate further losses as the dollar surged forward. It was the largest corporate loss of its kind at that time representing 20 per cent of the trading profit in 1992 causing the shares to fall 25p. Such was the magnitude of the crisis that the Chairman and Finance Director were obliged to resign.

Meanwhile in 1980 LIF B.V .(with Will Nijsse) was transferred from The Hague to Allied's premises in Breda. From time to time LIF was used for financial transactions and still does so today. It could be that LIF is the last company carrying the Lyons name, albeit in disguise, but I wonder if anybody cares! On 28 February 2005, Allied Domecq plc closed the offices of the Dutch Holding and Financing Companies ( including LIF B.V.). The Companies continued to operate unchanged but were managed from Madrid (Spain), where Allied Domecq had an administrative centre. The Allied Domecq premises in Etten-Leur were put up for sale. The 45 persons remaining, mainly salesmen, were moved to rented accommodation in Breda.

Will J.Nijsse

Peter Bird

February 2005