Garry H. Weston, former head of Associated British Foods, dies

by Chrystal Shannon
Share This:

Garry H. Weston, who developed Associated British Foods P.L.C. into an international food, ingredient and retailing group as its long-time chairman and chief executive, died Feb. 15. He was 74 years old.

Weston stepped down as chairman of ABF in May 2000 after suffering a mild stroke in September 1999. He decided in late 2000 not to stand for re-election to the company’s board of directors because of continuing poor health.

Weston, born Garfield Harold Weston in Canada as one of nine children of company founder W. Garfield Weston, succeeded his father as chairman of ABF in 1967. By then, the company had grown from its start in 1935 as a group of seven baking businesses in the United Kingdom to become the world’s largest baker and one of its largest flour millers.

Associated British Foods today is one of Europe’s largest food companies and has significant businesses in Australia, New Zealand, China and the United States. With annual sales of £4.4 billion ($6.3 billion), its businesses include Allied Mills and British Sugar in the U.K. and Abitec and ACH Food Companies in the United States.

Under Garry Weston’s leadership, pre-tax profit of the company increased from £13 million in 1967 to £384 million in 1999, and its valuation climbed from £90 million to more than £3 billion.

"By any measure, his period of office was one of outstanding achievement, not only on behalf of shareholders in this company, but on behalf of British industry as a whole," Harry Bailey, chairman of ABF, said of Weston’s decision to step down from the board of directors.

Weston had been a director of ABF since 1948. His first executive position was at the age of 23, when he was named managing director of Ryvita, the company’s crispbread brand. He headed the George Weston Foods subsidiary in Australia for several years before returning to England at his father’s request.

Weston and his wife Mary were the parents of three sons and three daughters. A son, George G. Weston, has been deputy chairman of ABF since May 2000. A brother, W.G. Galen Weston, is chairman of George Weston Ltd. of Canada and is a member of the ABF board.