Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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April 1893.
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Motor Showrooms, Catford.
Imperial Mills, Vauxhall Bridge.
Albert Bridge Flour Mills, Battersea.
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October 1963.

of 34 Victoria Street, London

Hovis is a UK brand of flour and bread, now owned by Premier Foods.

1886 Richard "Stoney" Smith developed a method of including the wheatgerm in the bread, something which had traditionally been excluded by bakers. He collaborated with Thomas Fitton, a Macclesfield miller whose company S. Fitton and Sons developed the brand, milled the flour and sold it to other bakers (along with, later, Hovis branded baking tins).

1887 The process was patented on 6 October 1887.

1895 The name "Hovis" was invented by London student Herbert Grimes in a national competition set by S. Fitton and Sons to find a trading name for their bread, which used a patent flour that was rich in wheat germ. Grimes coined the word from the Latin phrase hominis vis – "the strength of man".

1898 The Hovis-Bread Flour Co was registered on 2 February, to acquire the milling and flour business of S. Fitton and Sons[1].

1900 Richard Smith died.

1906 Forty-Sack plant at Trafford park completed and the plant and machinery from Macclesfield is transferred to it.

1909-18 Thomas Dence is Chairman.

1912 Distribution of flour to thousands of bakers was an important part of the business. In 1912 a Leyland 2-ton petrol-engined van was purchased and more followed, displacing the original horse-drawn delivery vehicles.

1918 The Hovis-Bread Flour Co became Hovis Limited.

1918-24 Browne-Martin is Chairman.

1920 Acquired Marriage, Neave and Co.

1924 Alexander H. Dence became Chairman

1925 Acquired Albion Mill, Lincoln.

1927 Acquired Humphries and Bobbett

Substantial advertising campaigns and other means of attracting public attention were deployed. Partnering with other products was used, starting with Brooke Bond tea in 1901, Bovril in 1926 and Keiller's marmalade in 1932.

1940 December 23rd. Trafford Park Mill destroyed by enemy bombing.

1948 See Hovis: 1948 Overview

Hovis was an early user of television advertising from 1955.

1955 The bread-making division has been known as British Bakeries since 1955.

In 1957 McDougalls merged with Hovis to form Hovis-McDougall.

1962 Hovis-McDougall was taken over by Ranks Ltd to become part of the new group Ranks Hovis McDougall, later RHM, which also owns the Mothers Pride and Nimble bread brands.

2007 RHM was acquired by Premier Foods.

2014 Premier Foods sold 51 percent of Hovis to Gores Group, a Los Angeles-based private equity fund..

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Stock Exchange Year Book 1908