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H. J. Heinz Company history, profile and history video

H. J. Heinz Company was a food business founded in 1869 in Sharpsburg, Pennsylvania by Henry J. Heinz. The company manufactures and markets an extensive line of food products in 200 countries. The company’s principal products include ketchup, condiments and sauces, frozen food, soups, beans and pasta meals, infant nutrition and other food products. Its leading brands include its namesake ketchup, Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce, Classico pasta sauces, Ore-Ida frozen potatoes, and its Boston Market, T.G.I. Friday’s, and Weight Watchers frozen foods.Heinz was taken private by Berkshire Hathaway and 3G Capital in a $28 billion leveraged buyout deal in June, 2013.”

HJ Heinz History

19th-century origins

Founder Henry J. Heinz began packing foodstuffs on a small scale at Sharpsburg, Pennsylvania, in 1869. There he founded Heinz Noble & Company with a friend, L. Clarence Noble, and began marketing horseradish. The company went bankrupt in 1875, but the following year Heinz founded another company, F & J Heinz, with his brother John Heinz and a cousin Frederick Heinz. One of this company’s first products was tomato ketchup.

The company continued to grow, and in 1888 Heinz bought out his other two partners and reorganized the company as the H. J. Heinz Company. Its slogan, “57 varieties”, was introduced by Heinz in 1896. Inspired by an advertisement he saw while riding an elevated train in New York City (a shoe store boasting “21 styles”), Heinz picked the number more or less at random because he liked the sound of it, selecting 7 specifically because, as he put it, of the “psychological influence of that figure and of its enduring significance to people of all ages.”

20th century

H. J. Heinz was incorporated in 1905, and Heinz served as its first president, remaining in the position for the rest of his life. Under his leadership, the company pioneered processes for sanitary food preparation, leading a successful lobbying effort in favor of the Pure Food and Drug Act in 1906. During World War I, he worked with the Food Administration.

In 1969, Tony O’Reilly joined the company’s UK subsidiary, soon becoming its managing director; he moved to Pittsburgh in 1971 when he was promoted to Senior Vice President for the North America and Pacific region, and by 1973, R. Burt Gookin and Jack Heinz made him COO and President. He became CEO in 1979 and chairman in 1987, succeeding Jack and becoming the first non-family member to hold that post.

Between 1981 and 1991, Heinz returned 28% annually, doubling the Standard & Poor’s average annual return for those years.By 2000, the consolidation of grocery store chains, the spread of retailers like Walmart, and growth of private-label brands caused competition for shelf space, and put price pressure on the company’s products. The decline was also attributed to an inadequate response to broad demographic changes in the United States, particularly the growth in population among Hispanic Americans and African Americans.

Tony O’Reilly left Heinz in 1998 after issues with the company’s performance, and challenges from corporate governance groups and pension funds including CalPERS. He was succeeded by his deputy, William R. Johnson.

21st century

Billionaire Nelson Peltz initiated a proxy battle during 2006, culminating in a vote to place Peltz’s nominees on the Board, which, depending on how many seats the dissident group received after the final vote tally, would displace some of the current board members. After the final vote, 2 out of the 5 nominees joined the Heinz Board. The new members of the board were Nelson Peltz and Matthew Craig Walsh.

In June 2008, Heinz began an advertising campaign in the UK for their new ‘New York Deli Mayo’ products. The advertisement featured a family with the mother replaced by a male New York deli worker. The advert ended with the father and the ‘mother’ kissing. This drew 200 complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority. On June 24, 2008 Heinz took the decision to withdraw the advertisement, which was initially supposed to run for five weeks. A spokesperson for Heinz stated that the reason for the withdrawal was recognition of the fact that some of its customers had concerns about the advertisement’s content.

Withdrawing the advert caused further controversy with Heinz being accused of homophobia. The gay rights group Stonewall called for a boycott of the company’s products. Some have expressed surprise that Heinz has responded to what they view as a small number of complainants, relative to the United Kingdom’s 3.6 million gay and lesbian consumers. MP Diane Abbott called the decision to withdraw the advert ‘ill-considered’ and ‘likely to offend the gay community’ in an Early Day Motion on June 25.

On February 14, 2013, it was announced that Heinz would be purchased by Berkshire Hathaway and 3G Capital for $23 billion. Including debt assumption the transaction is valued at $28 billion. According to Heinz, the deal is the largest in food industry history. Berkshire Hathaway and 3G will each own half of Heinz with 3G running the company. Berkshire and 3G paid $72.50 a share. The acquisition was completed in June of that year. Berkshire and 3G immediately named former chief executive of Burger King Worldwide Inc, Bernardo Hees, as the CEO.

On August 13, 2013, Heinz announced it was cutting 600 jobs in North America.

On October 25, 2013, fast-food chain McDonalds announced it would end its 40-year relationship with Heinz, after CEO Hees took office. Investment company 3G Capital which at the time partially owns Heinz also owns a portion of McDonald’s competitor, Burger King.

*Information from Forbes.com and Wikipedia.org

**Video published on YouTube by “Heinz Belgium