HMS ingredients business set for key rebrand as The Albex Group
Henley Bridge at last year's restaurant and hotel show in London. Pic: Henley Bridge
HMS, parent company of key specialist ingredients businesses including Henley Bridge, has unveiled a new identity, The Albex Group, reflecting its Scottish roots, reports Neill Barston.
As the company explained to Confectionery Production, the business started out with Kent Foods in 1986, and has expanded to oversee a total of ten companies across the food and drink sector.
Beyond its confectionery and ice cream ingredients business Henley Bridge (pictured), it also owns Jones Kent, a global commodity ingredients trader, BFP, a specialist distributor of bakery ingredients, Tom Walker & Sons, a specialist in packing own-brand cheeses and selection packs, and Kent Foods Manufacturing, a specialist in ingredient blending and packing.
In total, the Albex Group employs 300 staff, operates from ten sites across Europe, owns more than 250,000 square feet of warehousing space and operates their own transport fleet ranging from bulk tankers to vans, with the group having reported sales of £302 million last year.
Commenting on the re-brand, Chairman and founder Iain Dalglish, said: “Over the past three decades we’ve been focused on building a company which provides a valuable service to both sides of the ingredients supply chain. We offer ingredient manufacturers a ready-made, cost-effective route to every market for their goods and we offer users of those ingredients unrivalled choice, availability, service and value.
“HMS was always intended as a temporary name, but we got so caught up building the business that it has taken us a while to get round to changing it to something more meaningful. Albex is far better suited to who we are. Based on the Gaelic word for Scotland, Alba, it reflects our Scottish roots. At the same time, it speaks to our quest for excellence in everything we do.”
Discussing the role of Albex, Dalglish, added that the group is in a strong position collectively, with its companies retaining a strong sense of individual identity under their parent company.
Dalglish concluded: “Central to our approach with Albex is that we are a family of companies. Each company in the group has its own identity, its own management team and its own way of doing things. They operate independently and we have no intention of changing that. The role of Albex is to support them strategically and to provide shared services such as IT, warehousing and transport where we’re more efficient and effective working together as one.
Tracey Hughes, Managing Director of Henley Bridge Ingredients, believed the parent company’s move to rebrand represented a strong new chapter for the business.
She said: “Henley Bridge Ingredients remains an independent brand, independently run and completely focussed on our customers’ specialist needs. Retaining that independence and specialist expertise is absolutely core to the Albex philosophy. However, the re-brand of Albex is part of a wider move towards greater collaboration across the group so it does open up exciting new possibilities.
“For example, Henley Bridge Ingredients currently has 36,000 sqft of its own storage but now we have access to 250,000 sqft of storage, including chilled storage, spread across the UK and Europe. That means we can carry more stock to increase availability for customers and can service their European as well as UK needs. In addition to the 3,000 plus products we currently hold in our range, we now have greater access to the range of our sister companies and vice versa. This means our customers will have even more choice and our suppliers will have an even stronger route to market. All of that is invaluable in helping Henley Bridge to achieve its ambitious growth plans.”
Steve Lyons, Managing Director of specialist bakery ingredients distributor BFP, noted that the rebrand would benefit the group in terms of its communications with customers and across the group.
He explained:” Through its ten brands Albex gives ingredient manufacturers an instant and cost-effective route to reach every end-user segment. For example, BFP trades with thousands of bakery ingredient users every year from the semi-professional all the way up to the largest industrial user.
“From the perspective of BFP’s customers, Albex and BFP being the preferred route to market for ingredient manufacturers makes us a stable source of supply when times are turbulent as they have been recently. BFP being part of a family of companies brings other customer benefits too. It gives peace-of-mind that we’re financially secure and it gives access to the range of our sister companies. It’s great for employees too as they have wider opportunities to learn and develop their career.”