In June this year, teams of employees, clients and suppliers from Sir David Samworth’s Leicester food supply business will be running, canoeing and cycling around a gruelling course in the Scottish Highlands – all in the cause of charity.
It will be the fourth Samworth Brothers Charity Challenge and the first in Scotland, tackling an adventure course around the stunning scenery of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs. The last three Challenges have raised around £850,000 for local charities, so it’s hoped this year’s race will take that well past the million pound mark.
Samworth Brothers, makers of the famous Ginsters pasty, continue to do well, with record profits and turnover at Leicestershire’s biggest private sector employer. In 2010-11 the firm made a profit of £46.7 million and the business is worth around £460 million.
Further expansion is planned, with a new factory in Ashton Green, Leicester, due to open in 2014.
Sir David, who stepped down as chairman in 2005 but remains as life president, was recognised for his generosity and work for charity and education. Already a CBE, in 2009 he received a knighthood.
Sir David, aged 76, also supports three city academies; the Nottingham University Samworth Academy, the Samworth Church Academy in Mansfield and ther Samworth Enterprise Academy in Leicester.
The family firm goes back to 1868 when a young George Samworth first entered the business world as a member of a consortium of Birmingham pig buyers. Twenty-eight years later he set up his own business as a pig dealer in Birmingham.
Four generations on and Samworth Brothers is still in the meat trade, employing around 8,000 people in the Midlands and Cornwall and turning over more than £700 million a year.
Samworth Brothers, with its headquarters in Leicestershire, owns the household Ginsters brand which turns out three million Cornish pasties a week from its factory in Callington, Cornwall, as well as the famous Dickinson & Morris pork pie maker – the only one left in the town of Melton Mowbray.
In all the Samworth family empire includes 13 businesses. As well as Ginsters there’s the Bradgate Bakery in Leicester producing sandwiches and chilled food for Tesco.
Dickinson & Morris, established in 1851, joined the Samworth empire 140 years later. In 1986 Walker Charnwood, makers of pork pies since 1824, was also acquired.
Elsewhere in Leicestershire, Kettleby Foods produces pies and prepared dishes, Melton Foods makes sandwiches for Waitrose, Walkers Midshire makes sausages and other meat products and Saladworks produces salads. In Cornwall, joining Ginsters, Tamar Foods makes pies, and Kensey Foods produces quiches and deserts for Tesco among others.
Samworth also has a distribution centre in Leicester and one of the UK’s leading food testing laboratories in Cornwall. There’s also a sandwich delivery service which makes sandwiches in Milton Keynes and delivers them daily to hungry office workers in London.
In 2006 Samworths sold the Mrs Beeton’s business, but retained the right to produce chilled foods under the name. In 2008, Samworths opened Blueberry Foods in Leicester, making chilled deserts.
Sir David Samworth inherited the business from his father in 1955 and ran it with his brothers Frank and John until stepping down as chairman exactly 50 years later in 2005.