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Which of the following lovely friendly companies is actually a front for an evil multinational?

Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream
Harris & Hoole coffee shops
Innocent Smoothies
PJ's Smoothies
Green & Black's chocolate
Teapigs tea
Sunshine Desserts

The answer is that to some extent, all of them are. (Well, except for Sunshine Desserts, which is where Reggie Perrin worked.)

Ben & Jerry's is part of Unilever. Harris & Hoole is 49% owned by Tesco (so probably an associate rather than a subsidiary, although I haven't checked the accounts). Innocent is a Coca-Cola subsidiary. PJ's is Pepsi. Green & Black's is Kraft. Teapigs is Tata.

I'll let you decide for yourself if this is a bad thing.


( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 15th, 2013 09:04 pm (UTC)
Without reading the rest of your post, I think the answer is, all of them.
Jan. 16th, 2013 01:34 pm (UTC)
Well, except for Sunshine Desserts...
Jan. 16th, 2013 07:18 pm (UTC)
Jan. 16th, 2013 12:41 am (UTC)
Whether this is a bad thing depends on the way the company is run and how they relate to customers, employees and suppliers rather than who owns them, I tend to think.
Jan. 16th, 2013 12:00 pm (UTC)
Harris and Hoole's position is that Tesco lent them the money because banks wouldn't. If that's true then they're a front organisation for Tesco in the same sense as my flat is a front organisation for the Woolwich building society.

(I have no idea if it *is* true).
Jan. 16th, 2013 01:34 pm (UTC)
It's an equity investment rather than a loan I think. (Although from a quick look at Tesco's 2012 accounts and I can't find mention of it, possibly because it's not material.)

Looking at the pictures of the stores, I think I would have assumed that it was a large chain. They certainly don't look like the kind of independent cafes I tend to frequent. More the sort of big city chains that sell brown liquids with bizarre names ending in the letter 'o'. Their website also makes it look like a company backed by big money.
Jan. 16th, 2013 01:38 pm (UTC)
Yes, the question is certainly not whether they have the money from Tescos... that's sure, they've admitted it. They're well financed -- but unless you're the type who thinks that coffee is only good if made by a shoestring operation with no money then that's not an issue (is it?). The question is does this give Tesco any degree of control?

[I guess unless the reader objects fundamentally to Tesco making money -- which is not unreasonable.]
Jan. 16th, 2013 12:59 pm (UTC)
Ooh, I never knew Tata made tea. I thought they were an Indian car brand. Looking at their website, it's interesting that they claim Land Rover as one of their brands, but not Tata Motors. :-D
Jan. 16th, 2013 01:37 pm (UTC)
Tata is an old fashioned conglomerate of the sort that's pretty rare in the west now.

Mind you, there may be a synergy between the old British Steel and Tetley Tea...
Jan. 16th, 2013 10:10 pm (UTC)
I saw the article on this and it made me think that the author just hadn't kept up with business news. Most of the buy-outs/takeovers (Ben & Jerry's, Green & Blacks, Innocent Smoothies) were very well reported on at the time. Also it doesn't take too much detective work when looking at the labels to work out who owns them.

I wish Sunshine Desserts did exist :-)
Jan. 28th, 2013 11:33 pm (UTC)
Yes, this exactly (well, I don't care about Sunshine Desserts :-p) As a boycotter of Nestle for the past couple of decades I am very well used to looking past the 'large print' brand-name for the overall group name, and being prepared for changes in the previous status quo. Similarly in the beauty world there is always much reporting, in the beauty blogs at least, of take-overs of smaller previous independents such as the Body Shop or Urban Decay by larger groups (this tends to be an issue because of animal-testing: where the small company is cruelty-free is that stance going to be eroded by being taken over by an animal-testing company, and even if the particular brand does remain cruelty-free some customers still don't want to ultimately be increasing profits of animal-testing groups.)

Also also, (and admittedly sounding somewhat contradictory to what I have said in the previous paragraph) obviously "nice friendly independents" and "evil multinationals" is very much begging the question. While in many cases I do think there are good reasons (of various sorts) for favouring small independent companies, and being wary of large unchallenged monopolies etc, it would be ridiculous to think that everything mega-corporations do is bad let alone that they are driven by specifically malicious intent, or to think that all small companies are motivated by the desire to be nice (rather than, say, to make a profit.) These are the sorts of unexamined prejudices that are exploited on both (all?) sides (eg by campaigners against hypermarkets and by competitors of same, by small companies who want to create 'fluffy' image to inspire customer loyalty and by large companies who buy out said small companies in the hopes that sufficient percentage of loyal customers will overlook the buyout and remain profit-providing.)
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )