Unilever to sell off 'too English' Ambrosia

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The Independent Online

Ambrosia, the company famed for its tinned rice pudding and custard, is to be sold off by its owners - because it is too English.

The food giant Unilever has decided that Ambrosia does not fit into its "Path to Growth" - an ambitious marketing strategy based on global brands - and is eager to offload the Devon-based interest.

Unilever's chairman, Niall Fitzgerald, said the company had taken the decision to sell Ambrosia because "it has a very particular appeal to a small number of UK consumers but, alas, nothing else really".

Ambrosia is the latest victim of Unilever's policy, which has targeted the sale of 1,200 of its 1,600 brands to concentrate on those that have an international presence. So far, the company has sold or closed 965 brands.

The announcement of Ambrosia's sale came as a surprise to the 200 workers at the company's factory in Lifton, near the border between Devon and Cornwall.

Factory manager Steve Pretty said: "It's a disappointment - we have had a very strong association with Unilever Bestfoods UK, but we are confident that the brand will be sold to a new owner who will put Ambrosia at the heart of their plans."

Ambrosia, which has been making desserts from local milk since 1917, is the fourth-largest of Unilever's brands, with an annual turnover of £63m.

During the First World War, Ambrosia's products were ordered in large quantities by the government to feed British troops fighting in the trenches. The company went on to pioneer rice pudding in cans as a convenience food in the 1930s.

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