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Mcbride Plc Business Information, Profile, and History

McBride House, Penn Road
United Kingdom

Company Perspectives

Our Mission: To be the pre-eminent and most efficient supplier of consistent quality household and personal care products to the leading retailers and brand owners. McBride is the leading supplier of private label household and personal care products for Europe's largest and successful retailers. The company is structured to give its customers a complete private label service that includes marketing and category development, product and packaging design, logistics and supply chain management and fast responses to market needs with manufacturing centres in six countries across Europe. McBride differentiates itself from competitors in the markets where it operates by its integrated approach, thereby reducing the risks of doing business for its customers and of investment for its shareholders. McBride is an organisation focused on total customer service. It abides by the high professional and ethical standards expected of a business that over the last decade has consistently adapted itself to the dynamics of a highly competitive market while profitably supplying some of the world's most powerful and demanding retailers.

History of Mc Bride Plc

McBride plc is Europe's leading manufacturer of private-label household and personal care products. The company produces a wide range of laundry and dishwashing detergents, cleaning products, air fresheners, as well as soap, shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant, shaving cream, nail care, and skin care products. McBride's products are sold through nearly every major distribution group in Europe under supermarkets' house brands, and under a variety of smaller and discount brands. McBride is also a contract manufacturer for a number of branded products, including Colgate toothpaste, among others. Based near Manchester, England, McBride operates six factories in the United Kingdom, three factories in both France and Belgium, and one factory each in Spain, Poland, and Italy. The company also has sales subsidiaries in the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Russia. Household products account for the largest part of group sales, generating more than 82 percent of McBride's £537 million ($1.01 billion) sales in 2005. Since the early 2000s, McBride has succeeded in boosting its share of foreign sales, primarily in continental Europe, which account for nearly 58 percent of group sales. McBride is organized into three core divisions: McBride U.K.; McBride Continental Europe (CE), covering Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, and Switzerland; and McBride International, including Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Central and Eastern Europe, the Nordic States, and markets beyond Europe. Formerly the personal products division of BP, McBride is listed on the London Stock Exchange. Miles Roberts is company chief executive.

Founded in Manchester in 1927

McBride Plc was formed by the 1993 buyout of the Consumer Products Division of BP, when the British petroleum giant adopted a new strategy of focusing on its core operations. The Consumer Products Division was based on a number of acquisitions made by BP after the division was created in the late 1970s. The most prominent and one of the earliest of these acquisitions was of Robert McBride PLC in 1978.

Robert McBride had founded the company in 1927 as a producer and distributor of bleach and other cotton and textile processing chemicals to the Lancashire textile industry. McBride launched his company in North Manchester; under son Reg McBride, the company moved to nearby Middleton in 1945. The company then launched its first consumer products sales, bottling bleach for delivery to local grocers.

McBride launched its expansion into a wider category of household cleaning products and detergents under the next generation of the McBride family to lead the company. Under Terry McBride, the company grew strongly through the 1960s. A major part of the company's expansion came through its developing operations in supplying the private label market. The rapid growth of the supermarket sector in the United Kingdom in the 1960s, and the emergence of a small number of large-scale regional and national supermarket groups, had introduced the demand for products that could be packaged and marketed under the supermarkets' own names and brands. In order to supply this market, McBride invested in plastic blow-molding equipment in the 1960s, allowing the company to produce its own bottles for a growing line of products. By the end of the decade, the company had added production of dishwashing liquids, fabric conditioners, and the like. By the beginning of the 1970s, company sales already topped £1 million.

McBride grew strongly through the following decade--by the end of the decade, the company's sales had grown more by more than 10 times. Fueling this growth was the company's public offering, made in 1973. Following its listing on the London Stock Exchange, McBride made its first acquisition, paying £77,000 to acquire domestic household products producer Wimsol Lanry, a part of the Jeyes Group. Later that year, the company's expansion took on greater steam with the acquisition of a 50 percent stake in Gretna Laboratories. Based in Burnley, near Middleton, Gretna further boosted McBride's private label product offering with its own list of toiletries and other soaps and personal care items. McBride completed the acquisition of Gretna before the end of 1975.

The new acquisitions helped boost McBride's production capacity at a time when private label goods were beginning to take off in the United Kingdom. This market was aided in part by the growing British recession during the 1970s and the after-effects of the Arab oil embargo earlier in the decade. By the end of 1977, McBride's sales had topped £9.4 million.

Forming the BP Consumer Products Division in 1980

By then, too, McBride had begun receiving approaches from other groups eager to buy the fast-growing company. The company rejected most of these approaches, in large part because the prospective buyers were not able to guarantee the company's future continuity. In 1978, however, McBride received an offer from British Petroleum (BP). At the time, BP had begun developing a small household products operation as part of its recently created Nutrition division. BP also operated an industrial detergents division in Edinburgh, not far from McBride's Manchester base. McBride accepted BP's offer to acquire some 53 percent of its shares, valuing the company at more than £10 million.

Under BP, McBride grew quickly, as the petroleum giant tacked on a number of small family-owned companies to the Middleton-based private label household products group. Among the group's acquisitions into the early 1980s was that of Hugo House Beauty Products, based in Bradford, acquired by McBride for £2.75 million in 1983. By the end of that year, McBride's turnover had soared to £23.5 million.

Yet McBride by then formed just one part of BP's rapidly growing Consumer Products Division. In 1980, the company had extended this division to the European continent's private label market, buying Belgium's Tensia group. Tensia's mix of household and industrial detergents included soaps, aerosols, fabric softeners, toiletries, cosmetics, and other specialty products. The Tensia group, placed under McBride, extended BP's reach into Belgium, France, Italy, and Germany, adding nearly £94 million to the McBride's turnover.

Soon after the Tensia purchase, McBride sold the German business. McBride then launched a larger restructuring of its European holdings. In 1986, the company split off Tensia's Italian operations into a new company, Italian General Detergents. That company grew in 1989 through the takeover of smaller private-label shampoo and hair care rival Kopfchemie SpA.

The Tensia name itself disappeared after McBride bought Yplon S.A., based in Belgium with operations in France. Following the Yplon purchase, McBride regrouped all of its operations in these two countries under the Yplon name. These included a factory producing liquid detergents in Moyaux, and another factory, based in Rosporden, producing aerosols. Both plants had been acquired by Tensia during the mid-1980s.

McBride had also been expanding in its U.K. home base during this time. The company became the first in England to launch a private label liquid detergent in 1986. The following year, the company bought another leading U.K. laundry detergents group, Camille Simon. First established in the 1860s as a West London laundry, that company had launched its own laundry soap, called Simon's Lessive Cleaning Extract of Soap, in 1898. Over the following decades, Camille Simon grew into a major U.K. washing powders producer, particularly through its Surcare brand of detergents for people with sensitive skin.

After adding Camille Simon, McBride growth continued with further acquisitions, including an aerosol factory in Hull and Crestol Ltd., a company producing shampoo and other hair care items based in Bradford. McBride's fast growing position in the U.K. private label market was further enhanced in 1988 when the company became the first to market with a new liquid laundry product combining detergent with fabric softener.

Independent European Leader for the New Century

Amid economic turmoil at the beginning of the 1990s, BP launched a new strategy, refocusing its operations on its core businesses. In 1993, an investment group led by Lehman Brothers and Legal & General led a management buy-in of BP's Consumer Product Division worth £275 million. For the takeover, the group brought in Mike Handley, a veteran of Cadbury Schweppes, Reckitt and Colman, and Rank Hovis McDougal, as the newly independent company's managing director. The company retained the McBride name in order to capitalize on its reputation as a leading private label supplier both in the United Kingdom and on the European continent. By 1995, McBride had returned to the London Stock Exchange, listing as McBride Plc.

In the meantime, McBride had launched a new expansion campaign. In 1994, the company acquired privately owned Longthorne Laboratories, a manufacturer of private label personal care products. This acquisition was followed by the purchase of another private label supplier, Albright & Wilson, which focused on powdered laundry detergents, bought in 1995 for £3.2 million.

McBride entered Spain that same year, buying Productos Quimicos Arco Iris S.A., which produced household products for the Spanish private label market. A relatively small company, the bulk of Arco Iris's operations were in the production of bleach. Following the acquisition, however, McBride launched an expansion of the business, investing some £5 million and extending its product range to include a variety of liquid cleaning products, including detergents and dishwashing liquids.

Acquisitions remained a major part of the group's growth strategy through the end of the decade. In 1998, for example, the company acquired U.K.'s Globol, a producer of home fragrance and odor neutralizer products for both the private label and name-brand contract manufacturing markets. Also that year, McBride boosted its operations in France, acquiring private labels supplier Problanc S.A. and its subsidiary Sodichlor, and entered the Netherlands through the acquisition of that country's Grada.

McBride then entered Poland, buying Intersilesia, which manufactured liquid household and personal care products for both the private label and minor brand segments. Alongside the fast-growing private label market, the minor brand sector represented another attractive growth market for McBride. While the company's private label products were generally restricted to a single customer, the production of minor brands--that is, smaller brands owned by McBride itself--allowed the company to market the same product across a variety of customers and markets. Another advantage of McBride's minor brand operations was that they permitted retailers on the European continent to sell products with the well-regarded "Made in U.K." label. Featured among McBride's minor brand family were the popular Surcare and Brio brands, both of which were marketed across the U.K. and throughout Europe.

McBride briefly entered the market for over-the-counter medicines, buying Wrafton Laboratories in 1999. The company sold that business, however, in 2001, preferring to return its focus to its household and personal care lines. These were boosted that same year when the company became the first to market a soluble liquid laundry detergent sachet product, called the Brio Actipod, meant as a bridge between tablet and liquid detergents. In the meantime, the company had expanded its aerosol operations, forming the Aerosol Products Ltd. joint venture in 1999. In 2004, the company bought out its partner in that venture, Nichol Beauty. Aerosol Products held the number two spot in the U.K. aerosol-filling market.

By 2006, McBride had created an empire generating nearly £540 million ($1.1 billion) in revenues, with operations throughout Europe and sales to more than 40 countries. The company remained on the lookout for new expansion opportunities, such as its April 2006 purchase of Sanmex International's household liquids division for a total of £7.5 million. With the European private label sector's expansion expected to remain steady through the end of the 2000s, McBride looked forward to a bright future as market leader.

Principal Divisions

McBride U.K.; McBride Continental Europe (CE); McBride International.

Principal Subsidiaries

Aerosol Products Ltd; Intersilesia McBride Polska Sp. Z.o.o. (Poland, 85%); McBride B.V. (The Netherlands); McBride Euro Finance Ltd; McBride Hungary Kft (Hungary); McBride S.A. (Belgium); McBride S.A. (Spain); McBride S.A.S. (France); McBride S.p.a. (Italy); McBride s.r.o. (Czech Republic); OOO McBride Russia; Problanc S.A.S. (France); Robert McBride Ltd; Vitherm S.A.S. (France).

Principal Competitors

Nestle S.A.; Procter and Gamble Co.; Unilever; Johnson & Johnson; E. Merck; Sanofi-Aventis; L'Oreal S.A.; Rhodia; Sara Lee/DE International B.V.; Bolton Group B.V.; Smith and Nephew plc.


  • Key Dates
  • 1927 Robert McBride founds a textile chemical supply business in North Manchester.
  • 1945 The company launches its first consumer products sales, distributing bottled bleach to local grocers.
  • 1960s McBride installs blow-molding equipment and expands into private label production of household products and soaps and shampoos.
  • 1973 McBride goes public with a listing on the London Stock Exchange.
  • 1978 British Petroleum (BP) acquires McBride as the core of its new Consumer Products Division.
  • 1980 BP acquires Belgium's Tensia, which is placed under McBride.
  • 1987 McBride acquires Camille Simon, of the U.K., holder of the Surcare brand.
  • 1993 BP sells McBride to a management buy-in backed by Lehman Brothers and Legal & General.
  • 1995 McBride acquires Arco Iris to enter Spain.
  • 1998 The company acquires Problanc in France and Intersilesia in Poland.
  • 2004 McBride acquires full control of Aerosol Products Ltd., a joint venture established in 1999.
  • 2006 The company buys the liquid products operations of Sanmex International for £7.5 million.

Additional topics

Company HistoryCosmetics & Cleaning Products

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