Bettys brews up a record £10m profit following year of growth

Bettys in Harrogate
Bettys in Harrogate
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TEA and confectionary business Bettys and Taylors Group saw its pre-tax profit hit £10m for the first time in its history following a year of strong sales growth.

The Harrogate-based group grew pre-tax profit by £2.2m to £10m, while turnover rose by 14 per cent to £133.2m in the year to October 31, 2012.

The company said its record performance followed a year of strong sales growth across the two businesses.

Group finance and resources director Paul Cogan said: “In difficult times people turn to businesses and brands that they can trust; where quality is never compromised and which consistently offer good value for money.

“It means a great deal to us that customers continue to choose to purchase a good cup of Yorkshire Tea or a delicious Bettys cake.”

The group includes tea and coffee merchant Taylors of Harrogate, six Bettys Café Tea Rooms, Bettys online shop, Craft Bakery and Bettys Cookery School.

Over the year, the group contributed £356,000 to charitable and community projects in Yorkshire and in tea and coffee growing countries.

In 2012, Bettys also gave 1,293 employees the equivalent of an additional six weeks pay through the group profit share scheme, which has been operating for 30 years.

The group is owned by Jonathan and Lesley Wild. Mr Wild, the great nephew of Frederick Belmont, the Swiss confectioner who founded Bettys in 1919, retired as chief executive in 2011 after more than 35 years with the family-owned business.

When he first joined the business in 1975, it employed 350 staff and had an annual turnover of £1.6m.

By the time he retired, staff numbers had risen more than threefold to 1,246, sales had grown to £103m and Taylors of Harrogate was producing the third largest tea brand in the UK, the best-selling roast and ground coffee brand in the UK and exporting to more than 30 countries worldwide.

Mr Wild trained in every job in the company before becoming managing director in 1986 and chairman and chief executive in 1996. Mrs Wild succeeded him as chairman in 2009.

During his first few years at the helm of the business, Mr Wild set about improving the company’s training.

In an interview with the Yorkshire Post to mark his retirement, he said: “Bakers used to keep their recipes a secret. I had to unbundle all this and say we need professional training throughout the organisation. The training here now is second to none.”

Mr Wild was replaced in 2011 by Andrew Baker, the first non-family member to take the helm of the business. But he left after just four months, with the company saying that the “longer-term ambitions and cultural direction for the group called for a different approach”.

Mr Baker was the former chief executive of Duchy Originals, the organic food company founded by the Prince of Wales.

He also held director roles at Cadbury Schweppes, Tate & Lyle and Premier Brands, as well as setting up and managing his own food marketing business in France.

The day-to-day running of the company is now overseen by joint managing directors Andy Brown and Linda Close.

Meanwhile, Mr Wild was last year granted the Freedom of the Borough by Harrogate Borough Council, one of just 29 people to receive the accolade in the past 128 years.

The honour of becoming a Freeman is the highest accolade a local authority can give, and Mr Wild joined an eminent list which includes The Rt Hon Earl Jellicoe, Admiral of the Fleet, the former Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury Stanley Baldwin, and Baroness Masham of Ilton.

Bettys is also committed to environment projects. In 1990, Mr Wild promised his two young children that he would plant one million trees around the world after they had been upset by watching a television programme about the destruction of rainforests.

Less than 20 year later, the company had planted three million trees and went on to launch the Yorkshire Rainforest Project with a pledge to help protect an area of endangered rainforest the size of Yorkshire.

Bettys and Taylors of Harrogate has twice won the Queen’s Award for Enterprise for Sustainable Development.

In 2005, Mr Wild wrote Hearts Tarts and Rascals: The Story of Bettys.

An estimated 30,000 tea bags are made every minute over a 16-hour day from the factory at the Bettys and Taylors’ Plumpton Park headquarters, in Harrogate.

There are six Bettys tearooms – two in Harrogate, two in York, and one each in Northallerton and Ilkley. The company has famously refused to open branches outside of Yorkshire.