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Westwood Works 1903-2003

The Holdings Building

The New Holdings Building

The announcement of a major re-organisation in the structure of the group which resulted in the formation of Baker Perkins Holdings Ltd., was made in 1962. Until then, Baker Perkins Ltd had dual responsibilities - both as the HQ of the group controlling the policy of all member companies and also as a manufacturing and trading company. It was decided that these two responsibilities were so important that they should be split between two separate managements. On 1st January 1963 the parent company changed its name to Baker Perkins Holdings Ltd and ceased to be involved in any trading or manufacturing activities. A new subsidiary company was formed, taking over the name Baker Perkins Ltd., to operate the Westwood and Bedewell factories. In 1966 a new building was opened in Westfield Road to house the new parent company.

1966: The New Holdings Company Building 1966: Entrance Hall 1966: Visitors' Waiting Area 1966: Mural by R. Ihlee 1966: Chairman's Office 1966: Board Room 1966: The Cinema
1966: Photographic Department Print Processing Lab 1969: Tom Gale tends the Holdings Building Flower Beds 1976: The Secretariat 1976: The Secretariat 1976: The Entrance Lobby 1987: BP Holdings Secretariat Layout of Holdings Company as first built

Yes, but what did the Holding Company do?

It was some 12 years after the opening of the new Holding Company building before a letter appeared in the Group Newspaper, "Contact", querying the role of the Holding Company. The following reply was given:

"Baker Perkins Holdings Limited is the parent company of the Baker Perkins group and as such directs the policy and ultimately controls the activities of all the companies in the group. Its headquarters in Peterborough is near to, but quite separate from Baker Perkins Limited's factory and offices.

Baker Perkins Holdings Limited is the public company whose shares are quoted on the London Stock Exchange and it owns 100% of all the companies in the group throughout the world.

As well as deciding the objectives and strategy of the group, the board of the parent company is responsible for providing the money to finance the operations of all the companies in the group, for deciding how much money should be granted to each and for overseeing their performance.

Strategic matters include such things as deciding broadly what products the group should design, sell and make, and the industries and parts of the world on which we should concentrate our efforts.

The board of directors of Baker Perkins Holdings Limited is (in October 1978) as follows:

I.H.G. Gilbert - chairman and non-executive director.
Sir Kenneth Barrington - deputy-chairman and non-executive director.
J.F.M. Braithwaite - vice chairman and managing director.
J.M. Peake - deputy managing director.
W.A.B. Brown - chairman and managing director - Rose Forgrove Ltd.
B.E. Cotton CBE - non-executive director.
J.F. Crosfield CBE - non-executive director.
S.C. Hargreaves - planning director.
C.W. Joyce - finance director.
R.F. Kelley - president and chief executive, Baker Perkins Inc. (USA).
N. Mountain - chairman and managing director, Baker Perkins Ltd.
M.R.H. Smith - deputy managing director, Baker Perkins Ltd.

Franklin Braithwaite, John Peake, Stephen Hargreaves and Colin Joyce are full-time executives based at the group headquarters, but travel widely to visit group companies in the UK and overseas. Another four members of the parent company board are senior executives of major operating companies of the group.

The non-executive directors serve in a part-time capacity, being elected to the board to bring to it special contributions. these include the benefit of their different business backgrounds and experiences, an independent view on matters of strategy and broad policy, and the keeping of a watch on the general performance of the group's top management.

Supporting the directors in their work of running the group is a small team covering the functions of finance, accounting and budgeting, and providing legal and company administrative service.

In addition to these are certain services which it has been decided should be provided centrally for the group as a whole. These include personnel and training, advertising, public relations, market analysis, patents and pensions.

In some cases these services are provided centrally because this is the most economic way of dealing with them and in others, such as personnel, training and market analysis, they carry out certain functions to supplement those of the specialist departments in the operating companies. Some of these services apply only to the UK whilst others extend to the group worldwide.

The total staff of the parent company is about 60."

Keeping order at Board Meetings

Order was maintained at Holding Company board meetings with the aid of an impressive gavel and board, presented to the company in memory of Josh Booth by his son, Richard Booth. Josh was one of the Company's most outstanding characters - "a man of uncommon driving force who could not tolerate opposition "- serving as a director on the Production side of the business from 1920 until his untimely death in 1942."He did not spare himself – or anyone else" a colleague wrote. "He fired us all with enthusiasm and put into our war effort the drive which was so necessary. He tackled every job with enthusiasm and a vast fund of experience".

Holding Company Board Room Gavel and Board

A second engraved plaque states - "THIS GAVEL & BOARD WAS MADE FROM WOOD SALVAGED FROM THE HOUSE OF COMMONS BOMBED MAY 1941." Standing before Parliament in temporary accommodation in the House of Lords, Winston Churchill said - "On the night of 10th May 1941, with one of the last bombs of the last serious raid, our House of Commons was destroyed by the violence of the enemy................."The death toll from just this one night stood at 1,454, but, thankfully signalled the virtual end of the Blitz. Overall, the Blitz lasted for nine months with seventy-one major raids during which 18,291 tonnes of high explosive killed over 19,826 civilians and wounded 72,570.The night of 10/11th May 1941 came to be known as "The Longest Night". (A very full account of what happened that night can be found in Gavin Mortimer's book - "The Longest Night" published by Cassell Military Classics).

The Management Structure in 1978

The Group Services delivered by the Holding Company

The Holding Company's staff, comprising approximately 60 people, provided a number of specialist services both to the Holdings Company and to the Group in general:

(NOTE - For a list of the staff in the Holding Company in 1984, click here).

The Holdings Building - The End

With the merger between Baker Perkins and APV in March 1987 and the decision to locate the new group’s Headquarters in Lygon Place, Victoria, London, the Holdings Building became, effectively, redundant. It was not, however, finally vacated until the food machinery business moved to the new APV Baker Factory in Paston Peterborough in mid-1991.

Just prior to the 1987 merger, Baker Perkins Holdings had undergone a major change in management. John Peake had taken over as group chairman from Sir Franklin Braithwaite in 1984 and Mike Smith, the previous managing director of Baker Perkins Ltd, took his place as group managing director. Those directors who had steered the company from the post-war years, through the turbulence of the 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s, retired - S.C. Hargreaves and Ralph Batson in 1985, Colin Joyce and John Hardy in 1987 - to be replaced by senior managers from Baker Perkins Ltd.

The new line-up was:

The Group Innovation Team, under Charles McCaskie, was formed in 1985 and consisted of:

This team acted in a co-ordinating role first for Baker Perkins, then for APV, across the group in planning, technology management, systems management and marketing.

Inevitably, many changes came about following the merger with APV, headquartered in Crawley, in March 1987.

With the relocation of the last of the original Holdings Company staff the Holdings Building was put on the market, eventually being sold to Cable & Wireless (now NTL/Virgin Media).

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