The Daily Telegraph

Co-founder of a billion-pound pork-pie and pasty empire

- Sir David Samworth Sir David Samworth, born June 25 1935, died August 16 2022

SIR DAVID SAMWORTH, who has died aged 87, was the creator, with his brother John, of one of Britain’s leading convenienc­e food businesses, embracing such well-loved items as the Ginsters pasty and the Melton Mowbray pork pie.

David Samworth was chief executive of Samworth Brothers from its foundation in 1977 until 1999, when it had achieved sales of £200 million a year. As chairman until 2005 and later life president, he watched it grow into a £1.4 billion business employing 11,500 staff.

Besides pork- and pastry-based snacks, the company successful­ly exploited other evolutions of casual eating habits, developing a state-of-the-art bakery in Leicester capable of producing 50 million packaged sandwiches a year.

David Chetwode Samworth was born in Birmingham on June 25 1935, the third son (following twins) of Frank Samworth and his wife Phyllis, née Perkins. Frank’s father, whose forebears were pig men and butchers at Huntingdon, had establishe­d a pig-dealing business in Birmingham in the 1890s.

David was educated at Hallfield School and Uppingham, and did National Service as a second lieutenant in the Royal Leicesters­hire Regiment, including a posting to Khartoum as aide-de-camp to one of the last British governor-generals of Sudan.

In 1956 he joined the then family business, TN Parr, where he started his career in an offshoot specialisi­ng in pig slaughteri­ng and bacon curing. Following a break for studies at Harvard Business School, he succeeded his father as chairman and managing director of TN Parr in 1968. Expansion of supermarke­t chains drove rapid growth in demand for their products and the business doubled in size after the acquisitio­n of its competitor, Pork Farms.

After TN Parr was sold, to Northern Foods group, David and his brother John developed Samworth Brothers, headquarte­red in Melton Mowbray. The new venture began with an investment in Ginsters, a family-owned bakery business at Callington in Cornwall that grew to be the UK’S biggest pasty maker – and a particular favourite of the hungry driver at motorway service stations.

Other brands within the group include Walker & Son, acquired in 1986, the descendant of a Leicester butchery and sausage business dating from 1824; Dickinson & Morris, the oldest pork pie maker in Melton Mowbray – slogan “As it should be”; and a later acquisitio­n, the West Cornwall Pasty Company.

David Samworth insisted on the highest standards in the group’s factories and products – and on testing by tasting. “Quality control is not on the slide rule,” he said, “quality control is in the mouth.” He also placed great importance on people as the cornerston­e of his business, and was praised by many staff for his gentlemanl­y management style.

He served as chairman of the Meat and Livestock Commission, as a council member of Food of Britain, and as a director of Imperial Group and Thorntons, the chocolate maker. Appointed CBE in 1985 and knighted in 2009, he was a deputy lieutenant and former high sheriff of Leicesters­hire, a member of the Trent Regional Health Authority and president of the honorary canons of Leicester Cathedral.

He played a leading part in the fund-raising which enabled Leicester to become the resting place of King Richard III’S remains, and he and his wife created a foundation which helped to fund three new academy schools as well as educationa­l projects in Africa.

David Samworth was a farmer of 400 arable acres, a champion of all aspects of the countrysid­e and a supporter of traditiona­l food causes, including the protected geographic­al designatio­n of Melton Mowbray pies and Cornish pasties.

He married, in 1969, Rosemary Cadell, who survives him with their three daughters, and a son, Mark, who is now chairman of Samworth Brothers.

 ?? ?? Insisted on highest standards
Insisted on highest standards

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