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Kellie: Top 5 CEOs in British Food. We’re nearly at the end now!
Gina: Yeah, nearly there! This time, we’ll talk about the people that run some of the biggest food companies in Britain.
Kellie: We’ll start, as always, with number 5 – Roger Whiteside.
Gina: He’s the current CEO of the bakery chain Greggs plc. He began his career at Marks &Spencers and he stayed there a long time – twenty years in fact.
Kellie: Impressive loyalty! With a career that long he must have worked his way through the ranks.
Gina: He eventually became director of the food division. He became joint managing director of the online retailer Ocado and later CEO of the licence chain Thresher Group and pub company Punch Taverns.
Kellie: So he came to Greggs with plenty of experience.
Gina: He did. He joined their board of directors in March 2008 and became CEO on 4th February, 2013.
Kellie: Greggs has really become popular over the last few years. There are many more stores and it’s one of the few companies that has improved performance and profits despite the recession.
Gina: Yeah, it’s opened different types of stores too and now employs around 20,000 people. In 2012 it had a net income of £40.6 million.
Kellie: So much money from sausage rolls! Our number 4 is Philip Clarke.
Gina: Philip Clarke is the CEO of Tesco and has spent the vast majority of his working life at the company. His father was a store manager at Tesco and gave Clarke his first job when he was 14 years old.
Kellie: Wow, that’s a really long career! He stayed at Tesco after that?
Gina: Yes, after graduating from university he entered the Tesco Management Training Programme. After finishing that, he worked through the ranks of the company and was appointed to the board of directors in 1998.
Kellie: When did he become CEO?
Gina: He became CEO in March 2011.
Kellie: As we’ve discussed in previous lessons, Tesco is a hugely successful company.
Gina: Yes. Although the Tesco profits have dipped slightly since he became CEO as customers are searching out cheaper supermarkets, Tesco is still the market leader with a share of 30%.
Kellie: Still winning then! Next, is number 3 – George G. Weston.
Gina: He is the current CEO of Associated British Foods.
Kellie: ABF is a big company, isn’t it?
Gina: It is. It has many subsidiary companies that it has bought out over the length of its existence. Weston has also worked for them for a long time and has worked for several of the subsidiary companies.
Kellie: Where?
Gina: Previously he was the managing director of Westmill Foods and also of Allied Bakeries. He became CEO of ABF in 2005.
Kellie: What has he done since becoming CEO?
Gina: Since then, ABF has continued buying other companies such as Patak’s.
Kellie: Oh, I like to use their spices when I make curry. They’re very good.
Gina: They’re very popular too. ABF also produces a lot of raw materials and the company has opened new sugar refineries in the US and Spain and doubled the capacity of the refinery in Mozambique.
Kellie: They’re a truly international company.
Gina: Yes, ABF employs around 106,000 people worldwide.
Kellie: Wow. You know what I’m going to ask you about now, don’t you?
Gina: The money?
Kellie: The money.
Gina: Okay, in 2012 the profit was £583 million.
Kellie: Thank you! Let’s move onto our number 2 – Paul Polman.
Gina: Polman is Dutch and is CEO of the Anglo-Dutch company Unilever.
Kellie: Ah, I know Unilever. I see their logo on many products I buy and on a lot of different TV adverts too.
Gina: Yes, some of their brands are immensely popular. Polman went to University in both the Netherlands and the US and worked for Procter &Gamble for several years, eventually rising to the position of Group President of their European operations.
Kellie: That’s an impressive job title!
Gina: From Procter &Gamble he moved to Nestle and was their Chief Financial Officer and head of their Americas division.
Kellie: And from there to Unilever?
Gina: That’s correct. He became CEO of Unilever on 1st January, 2009. As you said earlier, Unilever products are everywhere.
Kellie: They produce Ben &Jerry’s and Lipton, right?
Gina: I’m not surprised that you know the ice cream and tea companies! Yes, those are two of their most popular food brands alongside Knorr and Hellman’s. Unilever also produce many non-food consumer products.
Kellie: Can I hear the money details now?
Gina: Okay. For 2012, Unilever’s net revenue was £3.786 billion. It is the world’s third largest consumer goods company when measured by revenue. Unilever is also the largest manufacturer of ice cream in the world.
Kellie: I wonder how much ice cream £3.786 billion would buy?
Gina: More than you could eat!
Kellie: I suppose so! Last is our number 1 – Justin King.
Gina: We had the Tesco CEO at number four, now here’s another supermarket CEO at number one. King is the current CEO of J Sainsbury plc.
Kellie: Sainsbury’s supermarkets.
Gina: Yes. Previously he worked for companies such as Mars and PepsiCo. Do you like Haagen Dazs ice cream?
Kellie: I love it!
Gina: Well, when he was managing director of Grand Metropolitan he was instrumental in the launch of the American brand, Haagen Dazs, in Britain.
Kellie: I feel like I should send him a thank you card for that.
Gina: Maybe you should! Regarding supermarkets, he has also worked in executive positions for Asda and the food department at Marks &Spencer. He joined Sainsbury’s as CEO in March 2004.
Kellie: It’s his success in the job that has put him at number 1 in our list. Tesco have a higher market share than Sainsbury’s but the Tesco CEO was only number f4.
Gina: King has been highly successful as Sainsbury’s CEO. When he started the job in January 2004, the Sainsbury’s share price was 279p. At the time of writing this lesson in September 2013, the share price has rocketed to 396p.
Kellie: That’s a big increase!
Gina: He set a goal of increasing Sainsbury’s sales by £2.5billion and he achieved that goal three months earlier than expected.
Kellie: And the money?
Gina: The 2012 net income was £598 million. The supermarket has a 16.5% market share.
Kellie: That is a good way to end this lesson, I think.
Gina: I think so, too.


Kellie: Next is lesson 25… which is the last lesson of this series!
Gina: Be sure to check the lesson notes for this lesson to reinforce what you have learned and we hope you join us for our grand finale of the series!
Kellie: Bye!