The company formed in 1948 from the merger of two Scottish family businesses, McVitie & Price and Macfarlane Lang and has evolved into an international business.
Its principle operations are its biscuits group, comprising all UB's biscuit operations in seven Western European countries, incorporating the national biscuit brands such as McVitie's UK, BN (France), Delacre (France and Belgium), Verkade (Netherlands) and Nabisco's European businesses.
In 2000 the division had annual sales of around £1bn.
UB's other business is UK Snacks, comprising KP Snacks, Derwent Valley Foods (Phileas Fogg) and KP Nuts. In 2000 this division has annual sales of around £300m.
UB has a wealth of household names in its portfolio and an impressive track record of innovation and development, making it a leading name in biscuits and snacks in Western Europe. Its high-visibility brands can be seen in virtually any supermarket trolley.
In May 2000 after a series of competing takeover bids, UB was acquired by Finalrealm, a consortium of financial investors (Cinven, PAI, DB Capital Partners) and Nabisco Holdings Corporation, the US foods business. As part of the transaction, UB acquired Nabisco's European businesses, bringing together some of the best-known biscuit and snack brands in Europe: McVitie's, Oreos, Go Ahead!, BN, Chips Ahoy!, Delacre, Filipinos, Verkade, Sultana, Hula Hoops and McCoy's.
The new UB is focused on biscuits and snacks. It now claims clear leadership of the biscuit market in the UK and Spain, and strong second position in markets such as the Netherlands, France, Portugal and Belgium.
In recent months United Biscuits has given a number of its brands a makeover.
In April 2002, it overhauled its entire Phileas Fogg brand with a new portfolio of products with repackaging.
A month earlier it had revamped its McVitie's brand with a £10m face-lift. It introduced a new 'McV' logo along with products and updated packaging.
Recent advertising has focused on its Hula Hoops sub brand Shoks. A £4m campaign broke in May with a TV ad featuring electric eels being released into people's homes.
Employees: c. 21,000
(Figures for the year to December 31, 2001)
Advertising agency: Publicis
Media buyer: Starcom Motive
PR agency: Hill & Knowlton
Annual advertising spend - year to June 2002 for McVitie's UK:
Source: ACNielsen MMS
Mandy Ferguson, marketing director, UB Snacks
Garry Biggs, marketing director, McVitie's UK
Hayes End Road,
Middlesex UB4 8EE
Tel: 020 8234 5000