1829 Spillers was established as a flour milling business by Joel Spiller in Bridgwater
1832 From Bridgwater it expanded to Bristol and Cardiff. The firm of Spiller and Browne was then founded.
1840s Joel Spiller and his partner, Samuel Browne, build the UK's second ever steam powered mill.
1855 the firm began to manufacture ships' biscuits. Grain offices were opened at Burton, Gloucester and Plymouth around this time.
1859 A bakery in Cardiff was acquired to make ships' biscuits, and subsequently some lines were introduced for feeding to dogs.
1889 the business was converted into a Limited Company under the title of Spiller and Co. (Cardiff) Ltd., and in the same year the name was changed again to Spillers and Bakers, as the firm joined forces with William Baker and Sons of Bristol.
1890s a separate business was formed as Spillers Nephews for the manufacture of biscuits and cake
1896 Purchased the Phoenix Mills of Messrs. Davidson in Newcastle upon Tyne.
1900 a grain office was opened in London.
1907 Shapes, a coloured biscuit for dogs, was introduced.
Took control of Nicholas Nagle and Co of Manchester.
By 1914 the company was producing 18 varieties of dog biscuits at factories in Cardiff, Bristol, London, Newcastle and Birkenhead.
1916 Head office moved to London
1919 Name changed to Spillers Milling and Associated Industries, which embodied several associated companies
Post-war: started to absorb similar and allied industries.
1927 Winalot a dog meal, was introduced.
1927 the name of the main firm was changed to Spillers Limited
1934 See Spillers: 1934 Review.
1950s Began research into Equine Nutrition
1958 the company made its first attempt to enter the expanding market for meat-based canned pet foods with a product for dogs named Wagalot which was manufactured under contract. The product was not successful and was withdrawn.
1958 Launched Horse and Pony Cubes.
1960 Acquired Spratt's Patent, a company represented both in the flour-based pet foods market and in canned pet foods, was acquired at a cost of £3.94m. The assets included a factory at Aintree for biscuit production, a factory at Wisbech for canning, and a dog meal factory in East London operated by W. G. Clarke and Sons, a subsidiary of Spratt's. The acquisition enabled Spillers to increase its range of dry dog foods and to gain a foothold in the canned section of the pet foods market.
1964 the company trebled its canned pet food interests by the acquisition, at a cost of £6.8m, of Scottish Animal Products, a subsidiary of Robert Wilson and Sons, with canneries at Barrhead near Glasgow and at Malone in Northern Ireland.
Spratt's range of pet foods and its sales organisation were merged with the then Spillers Grocery Division, and in 1968 Spratt's name was changed to Spratt's Patent (Holdings) Ltd.
Spratt's subsidiary companies continued to trade separately.
1967 Acquired Tyne Brand Products, a company engaged in canning food for both human and animal consumption for £4.36m. Tyne Brand's pet foods were confined to 'own label' products which were manufactured at a cannery at North Shields. Management of this business was transferred to the Grocery Division.
1968 Became the official supplier to British Equestrian Teams.
The sales forces of Spillers Grocery Division and Scottish Animal Products were merged in 1968, while W. G. Clarke and Sons was renamed Spratt's Patent, and was made responsible for pet product interests other than food and for sales of pet food to specialist outlets and customers such as pet shops, breeders andkennels.
1969 Wright and Co (Liverpool), a dog meal manufacturer with a factory in Liverpool, was acquired for £0.53m.
1969 The imposition of purchase tax, and the consequent reduction in the rate of growth in the pet food market, led to a reorganisation of Spillers production. The dog meal factory in East London (ex Clarke), the North Shields pet food cannery (ex Tyne Brand) and the old Spillers biscuit factory at Newcastle were closed.
1971 Put the flour milling, baking and animal feed operations into a new joint venture which was 75 percent owned by Spillers - Spillers French Holdings. Spillers would also concentrate on grocery products, pet foods, and meat products.
1971 a new biscuit factory was opened at Seacombe (Birkenhead) while the dog meal factory in Liverpool (ex Wright) and the old Spillers biscuit factory at Birkenhead were closed.
1972 the company acquired the business of Stamina Foods from Ranks Hovis McDougall for £lm. Stamina Foods was purchased for its 'own label' business; its factory at St Helens was closed prior to acquisition and the use of its brand names 'Stamina' and Paws' was subsequently discontinued.
1972 the Manor Produce Co, an offal supply company in the Irish Republic, was acquired for £0.2m.
1972 Spratt's Patent (Holdings) Ltd changed its name to Spillers Foods Ltd and took over the management of all the trading operations of the Grocery Division of Spillers Ltd. Lakeland Food Industries Ltd, a Tyne Brand subsidiary, became responsible for the 'own label' business.
1974 the production of pet foods was resumed at North Shields where another ex Tyne Brand cannery, formerly used for human food, was converted to pet foods.
The company has continued to occupy a dominant position in the market for dog biscuits and meal with over 70 per cent of the total United Kingdom market in 1974.
Spillers Ltd is a quoted public company with an issued capital of £39,420,000. The pet foods business of the company is managed by Spillers Foods Ltd which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Spillers Ltd, and is carried on in the names of:
- Spillers Foods Ltd—manufacture of pet foods and sale of brandedproducts principally to grocery outlets;
- Lakeland Food Industries Ltd—sale of 'own label' products to grocerycustomers under the brand names of those customers;
- Spratt's Patent Ltd — sale of products under the 'Spratt's' brand names,and of certain 'own label' products.
Gland Supplies Ltd and The Manor Produce Company Ltd, subsidiaries of Spillers Ltd within the Meade-Lonsdale Group, collect and sell animal offals used in the manufacture of canned pet foods. Their customers include Spillers Foods, sales to which are made on an arm's length basis.
Certain other companies in the Meade-Lonsdale Group procure supplies of animal offals for Spillers Foods from time to time on a commission basis
Spillers Foods also manufactures and distributes foods for human consumption. Lakeland Food Industries, but not Spratt's Patent, is involved in the distribution of foods for human consumption.
1975 At 31 December the company owned and operated 4 canned pet food factories and 4 biscuit and meal factories in the United Kingdom. Since then the smallest of the biscuit and meal factories (Avonmouth) has ceased production.
1979 Acquired by Dalgety.
Sources of Information
- The Times, Oct 15, 1971
-  Competition Commission