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Creating value together

Our way of operating – entrepreneurial but also financially prudent and focused on the long term – has achieved growth over many years and creates long-term value for our shareholders and other stakeholders alike.

Associated British Foods is a diversified group with a wide range of food and ingredients businesses, more than 40 well known grocery brands, and our flagship retail brand, Primark. We have a strong social purpose: to provide safe, nutritious and affordable food, and clothing that is great value for money.

We are a global organisation with 128,000 employees, operations in 53 countries, suppliers in many more, and customers in more than 100 countries. More than half of our senior leaders are non-UK citizens, representing 23 different nationalities between them.

We operate a devolved operating model across our five business segments of Grocery, Sugar, Agriculture, Ingredients and Retail and believe the best way to create enduring value involves setting objectives from the bottom up rather than the top down. We make operational decisions locally, because in our experience they are most successful when made and owned by the people with the best understanding of their customers and markets. This accountability is highly motivating for our strong local management teams, encouraging an entrepreneurial approach that drives innovative business thinking.

The Group, or corporate centre, provides a framework for sharing of ideas and best practice. The Group is in constant dialogue with the people who run our businesses, giving our corporate leaders a detailed understanding of their material opportunities and risks and enabling us to collaborate when making material decisions. Because the centre is small and uses short lines of communication, we can also ensure prompt and unambiguous decision-making.

The chart above shows how our business model works, from the discussion and scrutiny of each business by the Group leadership team to oversight by the Board through our structured governance framework.

We take a long-term view to create long-term value for our shareholders, business partners, employees and the communities in which we operate. Our strategy is to achieve sustainable growth over the long term and the Group balance sheet is managed to ensure long-term financial stability, regardless of the state of the capital markets. We are committed to increasing shareholder value through sound commercial and responsible business decisions that deliver steady growth in earnings and dividends.

Our ownership structure provides us with the stability to invest in businesses that we believe in and to support the growth of those businesses over the long term. Our growth has been mostly organic, achieved through investment in marketing, development of existing and new products and technologies, and through targeted capital expenditure to improve efficiency and expand capacity. Acquisitions are carefully targeted to complement existing business activities and exploit opportunities in adjacent markets or geographies.

Our long-established, disciplined approach to capital investment underpins our growth. We manage our balance sheet to provide the headroom necessary to fund long-term investment and we make funding available to all our businesses, providing the returns on their investment proposals meet or exceed a set of clearly defined criteria. We believe that this approach, coupled with a rigorous commitment to ethical conduct and sustainable business practice is the best way to create enduring value for all our stakeholders.

The Group’s majority shareholder is Wittington Investments, a privately owned company which in turn is majority owned by the Garfield Weston Foundation.

The Foundation is one of the UK’s leading grant-making charitable institutions and is mainly funded by the dividends from Associated British Foods. The returns we generate therefore matter not only for shareholders, they also provide essential funding for many charities. Indeed, in the last financial year to 5 April 2021, the Foundation donated around £98m to some 2,000 charities across the UK and in the 63 years since the Foundation was created it has disbursed more than £1bn in grants.

 

We understand the value of good people, strong and accountable teams, the power of brands, the need for continuous investment and the need to maintain strong and enduring relationships with customers and suppliers.

Across all our businesses, we live and breathe our values through the work we do every day, from investing in the health and safety of our colleagues, to promoting diversity and respecting human rights. Our values are respecting everyone’s dignity; acting with integrity; progressing through collaboration; and delivering with rigour.

We pride ourselves on being a first-class employer, working actively to develop our people and create opportunities for progression. As a result, our employees tend to stay with us for a long time, building exciting careers that help them fulfil their goals at work, at home and in the community.

We believe that most people are inherently good and that with encouragement, engagement and support they will do the right thing in the right way. Our high standards of integrity enable us to drive a strong culture, recognising that acting responsibly is the only way to build and manage a business over the long term.


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