40= CLIVE & STEVE OSBORNE & FAMILY
Steve Osborne, the managing director of the Maldon Crystal Salt Company, owes a lot to Delia Smith. Since the TV chef and cookbook author began extolling the virtues of the Essex salt in the 1990s, its sales have taken off. Maldon sea salt was originally harvested by the Saxons, who dug clay pits into the salt marshes of the River Blackwater to collect the water on the spring high tides. The water was boiled in clay pots until the saltmakers were left with fine salt crystals. The Maldon Crystal Salt Company was started in 1882 and has been in the Osborne family since it was bought a century later by Steve Osborne’s great-grandfather, who also owned a dairy and pub. His grandparents grew it organically, supplying the local butchers and delicatessen and a handful of stores in London including Harrods and Fortnum & Mason. When Steve’s father Clive (now retired) took charge of the business in 1970, it was turning over about £35,000 a year. Today, turnover is £14m, though in 2013-14 it made a tasty £4.8m profit on £12.8m sales. It should be worth £50m as a very profitable niche operation. Other assets add £5m to the wider Osborne family.