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Vestey Group

The Vestey Group of companies (Vestey Group Ltd) (formerly Vestey Brothers) is a privetely owned UK business, with major cattle ranching and sugar cane farming interests in Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela. They also have an international food product business that includes meats, dairy products, frozen vegetables and bakery products, and are involved in food services and trading.

Table of contents
1 History
2 Subsidiaries
3 Former Subsidiaries


Sir (later Baron) Derek Vestey established the Vestey empire in (1897?) from a family butchery business in Liverpool. They were a pioneer of refrigeration, opening a cold store in London in 1895.

The Vestey brothers were initially sent to South America because the economy there was booming, in an attempt to make their fortune. They started by buying game birds, storing them in the cold stores of American companies before shipping them to Liverpool. This developed into importing beef and beef products, which in turn lead to them owning cattle ranches in Argentina and their own meat processing factory at Dock Sud, Buenos Aires.

To ship the meat back to the UK they created their own shipping company, the Blue Star Line on July 28 1911. The line owned a number of refrigerated ships (Reefers, and business later expanded to countries as far apart as Egypt and China, carrying passengers and various foods. Blue Star expanded into carrying passengers along with the food. Blue Star was finally sold to P&O Nedlloyd for 60,000,000 GBP in 1998, although most of the refrigerated ships were retained by Vestey's Albion Reefers subsidiary, which later merged with Hamburg Sud to form Star Reefers, finally sold off in July 2001.

In 1914 Vestey Brothers started to build a meat processing works at Bullocky Point, Darwin, Australia. The following year the brothers moved to Buenos Aires to avoid paying income tax in the UK.

Vestey also developed a business importing eggs from China, and during World War II they were a major importer of powdered egg.

Vestey bought a number of other companies in the course of their expansion, acquiring Oxo and London's Oxo Tower through the purchase of the Liebig Extract of Meat Company.

In the middle of the 20th century, Vestey companies dominated the UK wholesale and retail meat trade, selling refrigerated and canned meats, as well as leather and other by-products. Having saved cash reserves for the purpose, they entered into a price war with the US owned importers to largely drive them from the UK market. Vestey developed the country-wide Dewhurst chain of butchers shops, which was eventually disbanded in 1995 in the face of increasing competition from the supermarket chains. Dewhurst were the first to introduce the innovation of glass windows on butcher's shops - previously meat had been exposed to the elements and pollution.

William Guy Vestey, the current head of the family, is said to be worth 650,000,000 GBP. He ownes a 5,000 acre estate at Stowell Park, Gloucestershire, valued at 15,000,000 GBP. (Guardian, March 12, 2000).

Vestey are believed to sponsor the Vestey Professor of Food Safety and Veterinary Public Health at the Royal Veterinary College, University of London.


(in need of expansion and revision)

Former Subsidiaries

See also