Spotlight Associated British Foods: Organizational Capital at Work Feeding Britons
Headquartered in London, UK, Associated British Foods is a diversified food ingredients and retail group and owner of the global brands Twinings, Ovaltine and Mazola. The company began in 1935 as Food Investments Limited, growing primarily on the back of its bread business and through acquisition, for example acquiring Twinings Tea in 1964. Today the group operates in 53 countries and employs 133,00 people.
For this Knowledge Leader, firm-specific knowledge is the core of its innovation strategy. The group’s five divisions are built around a small circle of business leaders it calls the “corporate center.” The team executes via tight communication to ensure prompt, incisive and unambiguous decision-making with the authority to pursue new opportunities with entrepreneurial flair. Each division focuses on its own special expertise. For example, the firm’s sugar division is one of the largest beet sugar producers in the world, and its mantra is: nothing goes to waste in a sugar factory. ABF’s grocery division serves nine out of 10 households in the UK. The ingredients division is a leader in yeast and specialty bakery ingredients for the food, feed and pharmaceutical industries, and the Primark fashion retail stores are among the largest in Europe. As for Ovaltine, it continues to be made from the same three main ingredients it was 120 years ago: dairy, cocoa and malted barley. The brand remains anchored on nutrition, energy and taste, but has been expanded into new formats, snacks and treats for consumers.
As of 3/31/21, Associated British Foods was held in the Knowledge Leaders Strategy.