Hoover's - A D&B Company - We Make It Easier
Browse Company Record
Tools

    H. J. Heinz Company

    1 Ppg Place,
    Ste. 3100
    Phone: 412-456-5700
    PittsburghPAFax: 412-456-6128
    15222
    United StatesMap Map This Company
    http://www.heinz.comHoover's coverage by Catherine Colbert

    History

    In 1852 8-year-old Henry J. Heinz started selling produce from the family garden to neighbors in Sharpsburg, Pennsylvania. The young entrepreneur formed a partnership with his friend L. C. Noble in 1869, bottling horseradish sauce in clear glass, but the business went bankrupt in 1875. The following year, with the help of his brother John and his cousin Frederick, Heinz created F. & J. Heinz; the enterprise developed ketchup (1876) and sweet pickles (1880). He gained financial control of the firm in 1888 and changed the name to the H. J. Heinz Company.

    Heinz developed a reputation as an advertising and marketing genius. He introduced pickle pins, a popular promotion at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair; coined the catchy "57 Varieties" slogan in 1897 (despite already having 60 products); and in 1900 raised New York City's first large electric advertising sign (a 40-foot pickle). By 1905 Heinz was manufacturing food products in the UK.

    After Heinz's death in 1919 the business, under the direction of his son and later his grandson, continued to rely on its traditional product lines for the next four decades, although some new ones were introduced, such as baby food in 1931. The company went public in 1946.

    Heinz changed its strategy in 1958 when it made its first acquisition, a Dutch food processor. Major purchases that followed included StarKist (tuna and pet food, 1963) and Ore-Ida (potatoes, 1965). In 1966 Burt Gookin became CEO, the first nonfamily-member to hold that position.

    The company bought Weight Watchers in 1978. The next year former rugby star Anthony O'Reilly became the company's fifth CEO. He intensified the focus on international expansion and presided over a string of acquisitions throughout the 1980s. O'Reilly became chairman in 1987.

    Acquisitions in the 1990s included Wattie's Limited (New Zealand, 1992); Borden's foodservice business (1994); and pet food divisions from Quaker Oats (1995). However, faced with weak sales growth in its stable markets, in 1997 Heinz began shedding domestic units as it made global acquisitions. It sold its Ore-Ida foodservice operations (to McCain Foods, 1997) and its bakery products division (Pillsbury, 1998), but purchased John West Foods (UK, tuna, 1997) and Sonnen Basserman (Germany, convenience meals, 1998).

    William Johnson, who had turned around stagnant brands such as 9-Lives, succeeded O'Reilly as CEO in 1998. In 1999 Heinz announced a restructuring intended to eliminate jobs and close or sell about 20 factories over several years. Heinz sold the diet business of Weight Watchers, and, seeking greater access to the US natural foods market, purchased nearly 20% of The Hain Celestial Group.

    In 2000 Heinz acquired International DiverseFoods (foodservice condiments) and Alden Merrell (frozen desserts). Also that year O'Reilly retired and Johnson was named chairman.

    Heinz continued with global acquisitions during 2001, while at the same time being picky with its food back home. It sold its Budget Gourmet frozen entrée business to rival Luigino's and then lapped up pasta sauce and soup businesses from Borden Foods. Overseas, Heinz acquired CSM's food products division, making it the #2 food maker in the Benelux countries, and expanded into Central America by purchasing Productos Columbia and Distribuidora Banquete (makers of the Banquete brand of ketchup, sauces, and condiments). The company also purchased US-based Delimex Holdings (frozen Mexican foods) as well as the Poppers and T.G.I. Friday's lines of frozen appetizers from Anchor Food Products.

    In an effort to focus on its core food products (sauces, ketchup, frozen foods), Heinz spun off a number of its North American businesses to Del Monte Foods in 2002. The all-stock transaction included the company's pet food (Kibbles 'n Bits) and snacks, tuna (StarKist), private-label soup, and infant feeding (Nature's Goodness) businesses. The divestitures totaled 20% of Heinz's revenues, but the company gained a 75% stake in Del Monte.

    Furthering expansion in China, Heinz purchased Meiweiyuan Food Corp. (flavoring), along with Meiweiyuan Food Factory and Fanyu Jinmai Food Factory (food processing) in 2002. Keeping up with the health-food-Joneses, it introduced Heinz organic ketchup that year.

    In 2003 the company announced the restructuring of its North American operations into two units: Away from Home (restaurant and on-the-go eating businesses) and Consumer Products (ketchup, condiments, sauces, and frozen meals and snacks). Also in 2003 the company's foodservice division acquired Truesoups, a premium frozen soup maker.

    The next year the company bought Canadian foodservice sauce and salad-dressing maker Unifine Richardson and sold its frozen-food brands Ethnic Gourmet and Rosetto to Hain. It also sold its Northern Europe bakery business that year. The next year Heinz's foodservice division bought frozen hors d'oeuvres company Appetizers And, Inc. and Nancy's Specialty Foods.

    Heinz also acquired a majority stake in Russian condiment and margarine maker Petrosoyuz and the HP Foods Group from Groupe Danone in 2005. The HP group (for which Heinz paid $820 million in cash) included Lea & Perrins, HP, and Amoy Asian sauces. In addition, the company opened a new product-development and technical-assistance center, consolidating all of its R&D in one place.

    Heinz said that in order to focus on its core business (ketchup and sauces, meals and snacks, and infant nutrition), in 2006 it sold its 16% interest in Hain Celestial and its New Zealand poultry operations, Tegel Foods, to Pacific Equity Partners for $165 million.

    In a continuing effort to concentrate on its core business, that year Heinz also sold the ethnic foods sector of Lea & Perrins maker, HP Foods (which it acquired the year before and which supplies products to the Chinese, Indian, and Thai restaurant sectors under the brand names Cathay, Dynasty, Green Dragon, Lotus, and Rajah), to Associated British Foods for an undisclosed sum. Later in 2006 Heinz sold its European seafood business to Lehman Brothers Merchant Banking for $506 million. The brands involved in the seafood sale include the canned-tuna brands Mareblu (in Italy), John West (the UK, Ireland, and the Netherlands), and Petit Navire (France). Continuing to shed non-core operations, Heinz sold its UK chilled prepared foods business (including the Linda McCartney brand of frozen vegetarian entrees) to Hain Celestial.

    Heinz announced changes in 2006 to its corporate governance policy as a result of its proxy battle with dissident shareholders led by Peltz's Trian Fund. The changes, which Heinz disclosed after discussions with CalPERS and other large Heinz shareholders, included adding two independent board members and the adoption of a majority voting process with regard to the election of directors.

    After many Heinz and Trian press-release statements back and forth and much press surrounding the bitter struggle between Peltz and Heinz leadership, it was announced that Heinz's board elected to add two of Trian's five nominees to its board: Peltz and Michael Weinstein. Heinz quietly announced the results as being a chance to increase shareholder value; Trian touted the results as a "big victory for Heinz shareholders."

    Despite wrangling in the boardroom, Heinz continued acquisitions, with the $68 million purchase in 2007 of Canadian maker of dressings and sauces Renée's Gourmet Foods.

    During 2008 it acquired the license to the Cottee's and Rose's branded jams, jellies and toppings business in Australia and New Zealand for about $58 million. It also bought the remaining interest in its Shanghai LongFong Foods operation for approximately $18 million in cash and $15 million of deferred consideration. The company added the Wyko sauce business in the Netherlands in 2008 as well, paying approximately $66 million for it. Later that year it purchased Benedicta, a French manufacturer of tabletop sauces, mayonnaises, and salad dressings. It also acquired Golden Circle, Australian maker of canned foods, juices, and baby food for some $196 million that year.

    Also in 2008 the company sold its noncore private-label frozen dessert operations in the UK to Polestar Foods. The sale included the Heinz, Ross, American Dream, and Devonshire brands and a co-packing agreement to produce Weight Watchers desserts in the UK. It also sold off frozen hors d'oeuvres unit Appetizers And, which had been part of the company's US foodservice operations.

    Continue To People

    (Company name or ticker or symbol)