Essex Life - - Rich List -

Food, £55m

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.

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